IPOH: Vape products that come in all manner of shapes and sizes ranging from pens to pendrives are concerning as they could lure children into vaping, says Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control Council secretary-general Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah.
“Why should they have products resembling other objects?” he asked.
“It would make it easier for the children to hide their habit from their parents, who may not know that they are vaping,” he said.
Muhammad Sha’ani said he attended a briefing by the World Health Organisation last week where attendees were shown a list of items resembling other products that would attract the attention of children.
These items, would “shield” child vapers from being found out by others, he said in an interview after delivering a talk at a seminar on “Clean Lungs” organised by Yayasan Ipoh here yesterday.
Among those present were Yayasan Ipoh chief executive officer and consultant orthopaedic surgeon Datuk Dr R. Ramanathan, its board of trustees chairman Raam Kumar, and speakers from the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital.
Muhammad Sha’ani said that vaping among children increased to 14% ever since vape products became available in the country in 2015.
He said children in primary school would especially be attracted to the products that come in different shapes and sizes.
“Children want a way to avoid detection, so the industry caters to that need,” he said.
He pressed for the government to pass the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill, dubbed the Generational End Game, as soon as possible to protect children.
Among others, the Bill seeks to regulate the sale and consumption of cigarettes and other smoking products among those born in 2007 and after.
Muhammad Sha’ani lamented the presence of vape shops everywhere and that the products are easily available online as well.
“The authorities claim that it is difficult to regulate it online. But if they can enforce taxation online, how come they cannot regulate the promotion and sale of such products?” he asked.
The law, he said, prohibited the promotion of tobacco products but asked why platforms are still allowing their sale.
On claims that vaping was much safer compared to smoking, Muhammad Sha’ani pointed out that vape contained more than 2,000 chemicals.
Countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have taken action to protect their children and that Malaysia should follow suit, he added.
Muhammad Sha’ani also said that employers played a big role to ensure that the workplace is strictly a no-smoking or vaping zone.
“If a head of a department himself is smoking, how is he setting an example for his subordinates not to smoke or vape at the workplace?”
He decried the matter that smokers were not respecting the no-smoking rule in many places.
He said the no-smoking rule should be adhered to with no one running to a storeroom or toilet to have a puff.
“If someone wants to smoke, he has to go out to the gate or the side street.
“This could force the person to stop smoking because he cannot be going out all the time,” he said.
He said that employers should play their part in ensuring a healthy environment.
“There is actually an industry code on indoor air quality. This means the role of the employer is to ensure that indoor air is safe.
“There can’t be enforcement taking place all the time, everywhere, so every individual has a role to play as part of the environmental, social and governance compliance,” he added.