The Consumers Association of Penang is appalled by the Malaysian cabinet’s decision to regulate the e-cigarette and vaping instead of imposing a total ban on it. Consumers Association of Penang reiterates that the cabinet must impose the total ban on e-cigarette and vaping if they are concerned about future and wellbeing of the youth in this country.
The cabinet ministers indifferences in this issue may pave way for the sprouting of more social problems. It is heart wrenching to learn that some ministers are supporting these vices by maintaining their stand against the ban. Only a few ministers raised their concern over this issue while the rest remain passive.
The irony is that while 14 countries around the world have already banned e-cigarette and vaping, Malaysia is still waiting for scientific evidence and studies for this device to be banned. This is equal to making a mockery of the stand taken by these 14 countries to safeguard the health of their citizens. This also indicates our government’s tendency of putting business above the health of its nation.
Youths are already afflicted with numerous other social ills such as smoking, alcoholism, gambling, drug addiction and so forth. Smokers in this country spend RM10 billion annually to support their habit.
While smoking, e-cigarette and vaping are seen as bane of youths, another vice under the name of shisha is slowly taking hold of the younger generation too.
CAP’s survey on this issue shows children as young as 8 years have started puffing on shisha which is a type of disposable electronic hookah. Shisha in 12cm length comes in cigarette shape with attractive colours.
Shisha is sold for RM15 per piece. Each shisha lasts up to 500 puffs. It comes in a variety of flavours such as orange, pineapple, cola, bubble gum, sarsi, grapes, mirinda, strawberry, vanilla and lime. These flavours indicate the manufacturers’ ill intention of enticing the kids and youngsters by associating shisha with youth’s favourite flavours.
Shisha is confirmed to contain formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a colourless flammable gas with distinct pungent odour. Exposure to formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. It can also cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. The US Environmental Protection Agency has classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen.
E-cigarette smokers and vapors spend around RM340 per month to buy the liquid. This does not include price for the devices which may cost another RM500.
Parents and teachers voice out their grievances over the aggravating e-cigarette, vaping and shisha menace in school. Together with their books, students carry these devices in their bags and influencing other students into getting addicted to this habit. Vaping is viewed as trendier among the students compared to cigarette smoking due to variety of flavours it offers.
For the same reason, it is getting popular among female students. Working women and students from universities and private colleges too have started using these devices. According to the teachers, some students have gone to the extent of working part time to buy these devices while some resort to lying to their parents to get money for purchasing these devices.
A Standard Four girl from a primary school in Penang was caught by a disciplinary teacher while selling shisha to older students from the same school. She is a sole seller of shisha to boys in this school. Shisha trade is being carried out in the school premise, an indication that other schools may face same problem which is yet to be identified. According to the teacher from this school, each student spends RM15 per week to buy shisha. Parents’ hard earned money is being spent by students to support this life-ravaging habit.
The shisha devices do not carry any labels. No information can be seen on the producer, country of origin and ingredients. Since shisha is not legally banned, one could easily buy it at public places, supermarkets and pasar malams.
If apathy on the part of government in this issue continues, then more youngsters will fall into the trap of e-cigarette, shisha, vape and the likes in future. It will not be surprising if we have more drug addicts in the future as the seeds for the drug addiction is already sown though the introduction of e-cigarette, shisha and vape.
We urge the Malaysian cabinet to impose an immediate ban on e-cigarette, vape and shisha before it poses a big threat to the nation’s wellbeing.
Press Conference, 4 December 2015