Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

Vaping popular among teenagers, CAP urges Ministry to impose immediate ban

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) urges the Ministry of Health to impose immediate ban on e-cigarette. CAP is appalled to find that the use of e-cigarettes is becoming popular among teenagers in Malaysia. It is even more appalling that e-cigarettes are widely used by students.  

Complaints received from parents and teachers from several primary and secondary schools in Penang indicate that the number of student vapers are increasing. Primary school students were not spared either, according to the teachers. These teachers have confiscated the e-cigarette devices from their students.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated mechanisms that allow users to inhale or “vape” flavoured vapour produced from replaceable cartridges filled with nicotine and other chemicals.

E-cigarette has been banned in Singapore, Argentine, Brazil, Cambodia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Qatar, Seychelles and Turkey. The delay in banning the device in our country is incomprehensible.

Health of the children who have started vaping at young age is our main concern. They are attracted to the new device and hence want to try them out, says a teacher in a primary school in Penang. Unlike conventional cigarette, these devices are flavored and thus more attractive to children. This may hook the children into becoming life-long vapers.

Vaping is becoming a major nuisance in food outlets. People openly vape in restaurants and public places, creating inconvenience to others. The vapour from e-cigarette resembles smoke coming out from a chimney, according to one complainant.

The label of e-cigarette says that nicotine content in it is 3.6% from the total 10 ml liquid contents. Hence it is ironic that some websites promoting e-cigarettes as solution for nicotine addiction. Besides that, it contains many other dangerous chemicals.

E-cigarettes are being marketed as effective smoking cessation device and sold for RM50 to RM90. The liquid-filled bottle is sold from RM10 to RM20. E-cigarettes are easily available in gift shops. There are shops specifically selling e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are also widely and openly sold at pasar malams.

A conversation with a seller revealed that more youths are buying e-cigarettes including women. Women like it because it has less social stigma attached to it than the real cigarette. According to the seller, the more expensive the liquid, the higher the content of the nicotine. In the case of normal cigarette each cigarette has to be lit, which may at times prevent one from puffing on the second one. But in the case of e-cigarette there are high chances of continuously smoking till the last drop of the liquid.

E-cigarettes are being promoted as healthy alternative to tobacco smoking. The World Health Organisation (WHO) does not consider it to be legitimate therapy for smokers trying to quit. According to WHO, electronic cigarette is not a proven nicotine replacement therapy.

According to scientists from the University of Athens, Greece, e-cigarettes causes damage to the lung. Nicotine on its own is an extremely toxic poison similar to pesticides. When taken too much, it can lead to nicotine poisoning, which causes vomiting and nausea and headaches.  

Malaysia has a smoking prevalence of 23.1% among adults and an extremely high smoking prevalence of 30.9% among boys aged 13. Everyday 50 teenagers below the age of 18 start smoking in Malaysia.

From a survey done by CAP, it is very clear that this e-cigarette is very appealing to youth and may create nicotine addiction among them. It also frees the user from the hassle of buying cigarettes which means chances of addiction are higher than the real cigarette.

While there is age restriction for the sale of real cigarettes, there is no age limit for buying e-cigarettes. This could lead into more children and youth buying and using e-cigarettes. Most of the sales are online and within easy reach of minors. Hence parents should monitor their children to prevent e-cigarette addiction among them.

There is a need to impose total ban on the sale on vaping as it may entice more youths into trying and getting hooked to them. Hence CAP urges Ministry of Health to impose immediate ban on the sale and use of e-cigarettes. Act now to save our younger generation.

 

Press statement, 30 October 2015