Stop youths from smoking e-cigarettes, says former minister

Stop youths from smoking e-cigarettes, says former minister

PETALING JAYA - The Cabinet must act quickly on the vaping issue before the habit becomes pervasive, says former International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

"Do not let the vaping problem characterise the 'new' lifestyle of our young ... a problem among schoolchildren and youths.

"Once it is pervasive it would be a huge problem to manage ... let alone resolve," she said in her latest Facebook post on Saturday.

She said the Government should not politicise health issues, adding that "it is tantamount to being callous about potential negative health impact of smoking and vaping".

"I am certain that the public at large are concerned, as opposed to the minority who wants vaping to be left alone," she said.

Rafidah also pointed out that it was useless to raise the duties on cigarettes if the Government freely allowed equally harmful cigarette substitutes to be easily available with no rules enforced.

"There will indeed be a migration to vapes," she said, adding that Singapore and Australia had already imposed bans on vaping.

She said there should not be any quibble on statistics as to how much nicotine would kill, but that it was about preventing a new habit being formed among the young.

Youths, she said, should be moulded to have positive and progressive mindsets free from the constraints of and form of addiction as it had the potential to sap their energy and impair their health.

"More so when the young of today need to be at their best to compete," she added.

However, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the latest Health Ministry directive to only allow licensed pharmacists and registered medical practitioners to sell nicotine-laced vapes would "kill the Malay-dominated industry".

He expressed shock over the ministry's move, saying that vape sellers could no longer be in business "as giant companies own the pharmacies, including the foreign ones", he said in his latest Facebook post yesterday.

He hoped the Health Ministry could review its proposal by taking into account the losses that these businesses might incur.

Ismail Sabri also wants Malaysian e-vaporiser products to become globally known.

"And what will make us more proud is that it will also be the creative works of young Malays and the bumiputra," he added.

Vaping became a controversial topic after the Health Ministry decided to crack down on vape shops, and seize vape liquids that contained nicotine, a controlled substance.

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