STATE Health Committee Chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon has made an impassioned plea to vapers to kick their habit.
He said it is worrying to see so many young people getting hooked on the e-cigarettes without being aware of their ill effects.
“Worst of all, people who were non-smokers before this, many of them women, now vape because they think it makes them look trendy.
“I wouldn’t be surprised that school children are doing the same as well,” he told reporters after closing the state-level Communication for Behavioural Impact Seminar and Anti-Vape Campaign 2015 in Kampar last Saturday.
He added that smokers who think they can quit cigarettes by taking up vaping are gravely mistaken.
“Vaping is not an alternative to smoking cigarettes.
“It is very bad. It can cause ‘popcorn lungs’, an incurable lung disease in the long term,” he said, adding that there are more economical and safer ways to quit smoking.
Popcorn lungs, or bronchiolitis obliterans, is a condition in which scarring in tiny air sacs in the lungs lead to excessive coughing and shortness of breath.
It is caused by the chemical diacetyl found in fruit and alcohol flavourings used in e-cigarettes.
A cardiologist by training, Dr Mah said prevention is better than cure in the case of vapers.
“The easiest and best way is to avoid it completely.
“In my personal opinion as a doctor, vaping is not only a waste of money and a healthcare burden, but also destroys families and causes the country’s productivity to suffer,” he said.
Recounting how opium caused the downfall of China, Dr Mah said Malaysians should never allow any forms of addiction to weaken the community.
“The British introduced opium in China with the sole intention of crippling the country’s economy and they actually succeeded.
“The Chinese were too addicted to opium to give a care about what was happening or to fight back.
“No doubt, vaping is not opium, but we have no idea what can be put into vape liquid and already, there are cases of ganja being added in,” he said.
On dengue, Dr Mah said there has been a 57.7% increase in cases compared to last year.
“Until Dec 5, a total of 8,938 cases were recorded compared with 5,676 during the same period last year.
“The number of dengue cases typically spikes during the beginning and middle of the year due to the alternating hot and wet weather conditions, which means that in a few weeks time, it will be the perfect breeding conditions for Aedes mosquitoes.
“We need to step up efforts to eradicate these breeding grounds but then it requires the efforts of all,” he said.