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Researchers urge the government not to delay the anti-smoking bill

PETALING JAYA: The Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023 should be passed immediately, say members of Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Addiction Science Studies (UMCAS).

In a statement on Wednesday (Oct 11), the members of the Nicotine Addiction Research Collaborating Group (NARCC) said the immediate passing of the Bill will protect the coming generation from the threats of smoking and vaping.

According to research at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre conducted by a cohort headed by Assoc Prof Dr Wong Chee Kuan, Dr Farizah Mohd Hairi, Dr Noraryana Hassan and Dr Mohd Afiq Mohd Nor, out of 100,000 severe acute respiratory infections (Sari) cases, 840 associated with e-cigarettes or vaping product associated lung injury (Evali).

“The economic benefits promised by the vaping industry are far smaller than the costs incurred due to serious illnesses such as EVALI. Vaping also has the potential to damage the respiratory system,” said the NARCC deputy coordinator.

Assoc Prof Dr Nur Amani @ Natasha Ahmad Tajuddin added that countries such as England, Australia, and New Zealand have relaxed vaping regulations and are experiencing increased use by teenagers and children.

“Data from the ‘National Health Morbidity Survey 2022’ shows 14.9% among adolescents aged 13 to 17 vape. Our findings at Universiti Malaya indicate that this has increased to 15.1% since the Generational Endgame program started in 2022 until 2023 in several schools.

“Removing nicotine liquid from the Poisons Act on April 1 was dangerous. It has opened the floodgates for the sale of vape to adolescents and children.

“The National Poison Center survey results show vape products being sold alongside candies and stationery in retail stores.

“More worrisome is that adolescents and children are captivated by vape promotions by celebrities on social media and online sales presented as a ‘cool’ lifestyle,” she said.

She then cited Dr Anne Yee, an Addiction Psychiatry Specialist, who said those who inadvertently inhale smoke from nearby vapers are also at risk of respiratory issues.

“We urge the government to expeditiously pass the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023,” said Dr Nur Amani.

Source: The Star

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