Nicotine should be re-listed under the Poisons Act immediately, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
In a press release issued on Monday (Nov 6) night, it said that the government should immediately re-list nicotine gels and liquids as a controlled substance under the Poisons Act 1952.
The MMA said this should be done following the government’s decision to decouple the Generational End Game (GEG) from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023.
Below is the MMA’s statement in full;
The MMA demands that the government immediately re-list nicotine gels and liquids as a controlled substance under the Poisons Act 1952 following its decision to decouple the Generational End Game (GEG) from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023.
We express profound disappointment over the government’s handling of the whole matter. Smoking and vaping is a public health concern. The Health Ministry should show leadership by doing everything it can in its power to ensure, in the best interest of public health, swift passage of the Bill to enable strict regulation of the smoking and vaping industry.
Instead, what we are seeing are more delays and roadblocks caused by the government themselves.
Did they only decide that the GEG is ‘unconstitutional’ and should be separated from the Bill as of last week? The government had months to extensively study all angles concerning the Bill. This Bill has been deliberated on from the time of the previous government to the current government. Any ministry, before the tabling of such an important Bill in Parliament, would have consulted their legal team or even the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) for their views and advice.
Claiming that the GEG is ‘unconstitutional’ now, when the Bill’s Second Reading was earlier scheduled to be tabled on Oct 10th smacks of yet another tactic by the government to delay or stymie the tabling of the Bill. It makes one wonder where the government’s priorities are. So far, their actions seem to be benefiting the vape industry the most.
In view of these latest developments, and the fact that the e-cigarette and vaping industry remains unregulated, the Health Ministry must take the responsible step of immediately re-listing nicotine gels and liquids under the Poisons Act or risk eroding public trust.
We wish to remind the government of its moral and ethical obligation in preventing harm to human health. The Health Ministry and by extension, the government has ignored expert advice warning them of the consequences of removing nicotine gels and liquids from the Poisons Act. As a result of its decision (to delist nicotine from the Poisons Act), e-cigarette and vaping products including those with nicotine, can be legally sold to children of any age.
We urge parents of children below 18 whose health had been affected as a result of consuming e-cigarettes or vaping products to consider taking legal action against the government for ignoring expert advice and for failing in its duties to adequately protect citizens, especially young children against the health dangers of vaping.
In June of this year, the Health Director General had stated that 17 cases related to e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (EVALI) were reported in that month alone.
He also said that the data obtained through the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022 showed an increase in the use of electronic cigarettes among teenagers below 18 years old (aged 13 to 17) from 9.8% in 2017 to 14.9% in 2022. A significant increase also occurred among teenage girls, from 2.8% in 2017 to 6.2%in 2022.
The MMA takes a serious view of the government’s delisting of nicotine gels and liquids from the Poisons Act. We strongly oppose this move and urge the people of Malaysia to hold the government responsible for every case of EVALI among minors.
DR AZIZAN ABDUL AZIZ
Malaysian Medical Association
Source: The Star (7 November 2023)