Speed up regulation of liquid nicotine, says KJ

KUALA LUMPUR: The passing of regulations for nicotine-laced vape liquids must be sped up to prevent more serious public health risks, says former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

Noting that it had been a few months since nicotine-laced vape liquids were removed from the Poisons Act list, however, he said that sales of the products were still unregulated. With the delisting, there was no mechanism to regulate liquid nicotine and vapes, he added.

“What should’ve been done was for the legislation to be passed first,” he told a press conference after delivering his keynote address at UCSI University Future Leaders Empowerment Series here yesterday.

During his tenure as the minister in charge, Khairy said he had refused to sign an order agreeing to delist nicotine-laced products from the list.

“I was asked to remove liquid nicotine so that we could impose tax on it, but I said only if there was legislation that could regulate the products. I refused to do so because it would pose a risk to public health.

“It’s been a couple of months since liquid nicotine was delisted but (there’s still) no legislation to regulate it,” he said.

Recently, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa asked all parties to support efforts to ensure the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 could be tabled in Parliament at the next meeting. She said the issue needed to be taken seriously due to the smoking habit and increasing use of electronic cigarettes and vaping contributing to the increase in diseases in the country.

Meanwhile, during his keynote address, Khairy warned that the Malaysian healthcare system would collapse within the next decade or two if no action was taken to address impending health crises.

“I spent just over a year at the Health Ministry and directed most of my time towards handling the pandemic, making sure the people were vaccinated and the country got out of the lockdown to open up the economy.

“But after that, I looked at the risk factors for Malaysia and we were sitting on a ticking time bomb of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). If we don’t do something today, we will break our healthcare system in 10 to 20 years,” he said.

Khairy said not only NCDs were threatening the whole system but also a silent pandemic on mental health.

However, the public, especially the younger generation, had been showing a progressive change where discussions about mental health had become more normalised, he noted.

“People are now more willing to talk about it. More young people too are talking about mental health and the stigma, thankfully, is being eroded,” he added.

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