The vaping business has thrown all sorts of arguments to halt the Health Ministry’s efforts to regulate e-cigarettes stringently. Firstly they violated the Poisons Act in Malaysia through sheer ignorance but flatly refused to admit this. Instead they focused on size of the business – read impossible to ban – instead calling for cooperation and ‘working together with the Ministry of Health’ to ‘regulate.
The public health and medical professionals did their part actively releasing evidence on the harms of nicotine addiction, lack of evidence on efficacy of e-cigarettes as a cessation and how the vaping problem is not separate from the smoking problem. In the face of overwhelming evidence on the harms of nicotine, the vaping community and their spokespersons shifted gear into the realm of racial and political threats.
Consumer advocates exposed how the uptake of vaping is growing among children below 12 years, blowing to smithereens the argument that people vape to quit smoking, and the other vape screens created to justify and promote the business. The way the e-cigarette business has behaved and the arguments it has used bears similarities with the tobacco business. Not surprising, since the tobacco business also owns e-cigarettes.
The battle has intensified and public health received a booster today: the Johor Monarch is the first in the country to announce a ban on vaping; vape outlets in the state must cease by 1 Jan 2016. In announcing the ban in Johor, the Monarch spoke of the need to protect children and that politicians should stop pandering to businessmen in the vape industry. University Sains Islam Malaysia has also announced a ban on vaping in its campus. Watch this space!
Check out SEATCA’s Tobacco Industry Watch website for more information on TI denormalization.
Previous ASEAN Tobacco Watch updates can be found here.