‘Vaping covered because no proof it reduces harm’

PETALING JAYA: Not viewing vape products as a form of harm reduction in the proposed generational end game (GEG) law does not encroach on smokers’ rights, say health groups and experts.

Former Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Wee Lei Hum said unless the safety of vaping products could be definitively proven, there is no reason to even consider legalising them for those born after 2007.

“While evidence about the dangers of vaping is plentiful, there is next to no evidence that guarantees the safety of vaping over the years throughout the global scientific community.

“Giving people the right to possibly harm themselves and others around them would then violate their own and others’ right to a healthy body,” she said.

“So unless a party can provide conclusive scientific proof of vaping’s safety and health benefits, there is absolutely no reason to even take the risk of endangering an entire generation’s health over insubstantial claims of vaping’s harm reduction capabilities.”

The Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) has recommended that several changes be made to the proposed GEG law, officially known as the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022.

Among the changes are the removal of clauses to make it an offence for those born after Jan 1, 2007, to be in possession of cigarettes or related tobacco products along with the power for authorities to enter private homes to enforce this law.

However, it would still be an offence for youths born after the date if they are caught smoking cigarettes or vaping.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Amrahi Buang said the amendments to the Bill would make enforcement more realistic, which would make it easier to pass in Parliament, adding that the Bill needs to be supported and passed quickly before Parliament is dissolved.

International Islamic University Malaysia’s Department of Pharmacy Practice Assoc Prof Dr Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed said the lowered penalties and relaxed leniency would give smokers and industry plenty of time to move away from smoking and vaping products.

He said unless there was strong evidence that supports the use of vape products as a way to prevent smoking addiction and reduce harm, there was no reason for MPs to question the Bill any longer.

Malaysian Green Lung Association president Ho Rhu Yann said while the proposed increased leniency of the Bill was not ideal for public health advocates like himself, he said he believes it is a vital step towards finally passing the law while protecting the rights and health of the people.

“Starting with a Bill that is reasonably acceptable to all stakeholders would be the big first step towards a smoke-free society while protecting the rights of all the victims of nicotine addiction.

“It is also important that as much as possible is done during the leniency period to ensure the next generation is well educated on the dangers of smoking or vaping.

“Those who want to keep vaping as a legal harm reduction alternative to smoking have either failed to understand the concept of GEG in the first place or are twisting facts for their own agenda,” he said.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had previously dismissed the need to keep vaping as a form of harm reduction with a clear message that it would contradict the purpose of the GEG Bill to create a non-smoking society.

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