Vape regulations necessary to ensure public safety: industry players

Vape regulations necessary to ensure public safety: industry players

Operating in space with clear rules an advantage, says leading regional brand RELX

While the Generational End Game policy has its fair share of supporters advocating for a tobacco-free nation, proponents of vaping argue that the device could be a less harmful alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes and a viable method to help smokers kick the habit.

KUALA LUMPUR – Leading regional vape brand RELX International has emphasised the necessity of regulating the item, amid plans by the Health Ministry to table a bill to control smoking products.

Several of the multinational company’s key leaders also stressed that cooperation with local authorities in accordance with proper guidelines is pivotal to guaranteeing that products in the market are safe for consumption.

Commenting on conditions in the Philippines prior to the country’s passing of the Vaporised Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act last year, RELX head of external affairs (Philippines) Patrick Drilon said that the law plays a crucial role in ensuring the safe sale of vape products.

The act, known as the RA11900, became law on July 25 last year and regulates the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use, and communication of vaping products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

“Before this, there were no regulations for vape and nicotine (products) regarding marketing and sales, but once the law was passed, we could see concrete rules being put down (by authorities).

“Yes, there are some restrictions (for companies), but we have the advantage of operating in a space with clear rules,” Drilon told reporters during a recent international media workshop here hosted by RELX.

Drilon, who has a background in public policy and business law, added that the law’s passing also paved the way for the Philippine government to recognise the vape industry as an economic contributor.

“RELX aids the authorities in efforts to clamp down on counterfeit vape products, which have a detrimental effect on corporations and government revenue.

“Since we (vape industry players) are required to comply with government regulations, enforcement officers have the power to go against vape manufacturers who flout the law.

“If Malaysian authorities are willing to put their foot down, I believe that they too can crack down on such illicit black market trade activities, once they pass a comprehensive vape law,” he said, noting that the Philippine law saw numerous discussions with stakeholders prior to its enactment.

Current Malaysian scenario

In Malaysia, the Health Ministry has said it is ready to table the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill during the ongoing Parliament meeting, which resumes on June 6.

According to the minister’s special adviser Dr Helmy Haja Mydin, the bill comprises two main aspects, namely the control of smoking products including vape and e-cigarettes, and the implementation of the Generational End Game (GEG) policy.

The GEG, which was first mooted by current Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa’s predecessor Khairy Jamaluddin prior to the dissolution of Parliament last year, seeks to prohibit those born on and after January 1, 2007, from purchasing or possessing cigarettes or vape products.

The bill will be tabled in the aftermath of criticism of the government’s decision to remove nicotine from the list of poisons so as to impose a new excise duty on nicotine-based vape and e-cigarettes.

Anwar has also said that it would be “quite extreme” for Putrajaya to outlaw vape and cigarettes, saying that a total ban will likely be ineffective as people will still choose to smoke despite government campaigns against the products.

Divided over health effects of vape

While the GEG has its fair share of supporters advocating for a tobacco-free nation, proponents of vaping argue that the device could be a less harmful alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes and a viable method to help smokers kick the habit.

Also part of the media workshop was Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association founding chairman Dr Colin Mendelsohn, who said that while vapes are not risk-free, they are allegedly “at least 95% less harmful” than cigarettes as the toxins in inhaled vapour are “dramatically reduced”.

He also posited a reduction in public health harm when society at large opts to vape, as there is no second-hand harm from its vapour in contrast with exposure to cigarette smoke, which can cause various respiratory ailments.

“The concentration of chemicals in the environment (from vapour exhaled) is very small and dissipates very quickly,” he said, asserting that the risks of vaping on young people are “exaggerated” and not based on scientific findings.

“Of course, we don’t want our kids to be vaping, but it is a much better alternative than smoking cigarettes,” the retired health practitioner said.

On the other hand, in a written parliamentary reply on May 23, Zaliha said that latest scientific studies have proven that vapes are still dangerous, even if they are purported to be a supposedly safer alternative to cigarettes.

Noting that 18 cases of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (Evali) have been reported to the ministry since last year, the minister said that it would cost about RM150,000 to treat a single patient suffering from the illness.

Dr Helmy, meanwhile, also said that as a respiratory consultant, he has witnessed many patients suffer from the effects of smoking and vaping. And besides affecting patients themselves, Evali-related complications also affect their family members, he added.

BY Qistina Nadia Dzulqarnain

source – The Vibes

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