Categories: NewsOpinion

Need for clarity to distinguish vaping from smoking

HEALTH Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa recently announced that the government is in the midst of finalising the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023 ahead of its tabling to the Dewan Rakyat next month. 

There have been calls to expedite the tabling of the bill, also known also as the GEG Bill. This urgency arises from the alarming rise of vaping among our school children and youth. 

It is imperative that we address this issue promptly and effectively, and a crucial step in achieving this goal is to establish a clear distinction between smoking and vaping. 

Vaping devices, commonly referred to as vapes, typically contain nicotine along with a cocktail of other chemicals that are known to be detrimental to health. 

Users of these devices are unknowingly exposing their respiratory systems to a range of potentially harmful substances. This presents a serious health concern that warrants immediate attention. 

In contrast, traditional cigarette smoking has, in the eyes of today’s youth, become synonymous with unhealthy and unsavoury habits. 

The societal perception of lighting up a paper-wrapped, plant-and-chemical-filled cigarette has evolved to the point where it is considered a taboo practice. 

Given this distinction, it is essential that we address vaping and smoking as distinct issues with varying implications for public health. 

To this end, it is incumbent upon the Health Ministry (MoH) and the media to provide clear and unequivocal definitions of what constitutes smoking and vaping, especially in news reporting concerning their usage among minors. This clarity is necessary to ensure that the public is well-informed about the risks associated with each activity and can make informed decisions. 

Moreover, it is recommended that the government and MoH consider the inclusion of nicotine-containing vape liquids within the provisions of the GEG Bill. 

While tobacco products have long been a subject of regulation, the rise of vaping has created a new and equally urgent challenge. To comprehensively address the issue of nicotine addiction among our youth, the GEG Bill should encompass all forms of nicotine delivery systems, including e-cigarettes and vape liquids. Furthermore, it is essential to ponder how the government intends to enforce provisions against those found guilty of selling tobacco products or services for smoking to individuals born after Jan 1, 2007.

Should this specific provision include vaping products as well, and how will it apply to sellers operating through e-commerce platforms or social media channels? 

These are pertinent questions that demand answers to ensure the effectiveness of the regulatory measures. 

In conclusion, the clear distinction between smoking and vaping is a matter of paramount importance in our efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of our youth. It is essential that the government, in collaboration with the MoH and the media, provides precise definitions, regulations and enforcement measures to address the unique challenges posed by both smoking and vaping. 

Only through a comprehensive and well-defined approach can we hope to mitigate the risks associated with these practices and protect the health of our future generations. 

  • Hasnul Abdul Karim Subang Jaya

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition


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