Misleading and addicting football supporters is unethical

It is completely outrageous for the Selangor Football Association, Red Giants Team Card, to turn to Vape Empire Distribution for sponsorship. The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) finds that such sponsorship a blatant act to sabotage the government’s effort to curb nicotine addiction and questions what a hazardous cocktail of chemicals such as those found in vape to do with a healthy sport such as football.

It is an utter shame that the football association started promoting the vaping company since 2019 to show that vaping is healthier by comparison to conventional smoking when vaping is associated with the dangerous lung disease known as EVALI, or ‘e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury’. Is this what Red Giants Team Card does to pay back for its more than 269,000 supporters’ loyalty? Even if it needs funds to run the association, it should have done it ethically.

Although vape products are not banned, Malaysia is pushing for a tight regulation of vapes and e-cigarettes since 2019. It wanted to place e-cigarettes and vapes together with tobacco products under a single law. The proposed law would ban promotions and advertising all these products including their use in public places and by minors.

Under the current Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004, “no person shall sell or offer for sale any object or thing with any tobacco product as a gift”. Vape Empire Distribution may argue that vape is not a conventional cigarette but many vape liquids do dispense highly addictive nicotine to be inhaled like a cigarette.

Under Section 11 (1) (p) it states that “No person shall smoke in any area in a stadium, sports complex, fitness centre or gymnasium” and interestingly, it is the duty of the proprietor or occupier of a premise to “ensure that no person smokes in the premise or vehicle.”

For  the proprietor or the occupier of the premise, it “shall be a defence for the person charged to prove that he had taken all reasonable steps to ensure that no person smokes in the premise…” under Section 12 (4). From Section 12 (4) it means that the Red Giants Team Card would be a party to what happened in the stadium if any of its supporters takes a puff. It is indefensible for the football association to allow vaping in the stadium while stopping smokers from indulging in their habit.

According to former Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad in November 2018, the smoking ban under Regulation 11 of the Control of Tobacco Products (PPKHT) 2004 applies to cigarettes and all tobacco products with nicotine, including shisha and vape.

We demand Red Giants Team Card to sever its relations with Vape Empire Distribution or any company that sells/promotes vape or e-cigarette products. Red Giants Team Card owes its supporters an apology for working with a company that promotes vaping which could lead to nicotine addiction in order to make profit.

Press Statement, 30 July 2020