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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3, 2015:

The majority of e-cigarette users, or vapers, would seek to buy their devices and liquids from other countries if their sales were banned in Malaysia, a survey revealed.

Seeking less harmful alternatives to conventional cigarettes, the vapers were also calling for the devices to be regulated properly and be more widely available.

In a first-of-its-kind survey of adult smokers in Malaysia, regional consumer advocacy groupfactasia.orghas found that most smokers, or 83%, see e-cigarettes as a “positive alternative” to tobacco products.

The advocacy group’s co-founder, Heneage Mitchell, said the survey was to gauge consumers’ views on vaping products.

The survey was conducted on more than 400 local respondents recently.

Already, some 26% of vapers obtain their e-cigarette products online and 75% of all adult smokers say they “will consider purchasing e-cigarettes from other channels or countries” if the government were to restrict their availability in Malaysia.

“This latter figure shows the extent to which vapers are willing to go through to get hold of these products if they are banned here.

“Banning e-cigarettes here would only criminalise the users,” Mitchell told The Rakyat Post when met recently.

Mitchell said there was a clear need for action in Malaysia to “regularise” the industry and to establish quality standards, tax the products rationally and ensure they are made available only to adults, like many other consumer items.

“The government here has a great opportunity to ensure there is no repeat of the situation that has arisen with conventional tobacco products, where a third of the total consumption in Malaysia is illicit — smuggled — products.”

This was the sentiment expressed in light of the description of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes, as being “more than 95% safer than smoking”, according to top global public health expert Professor Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Barts, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The Malaysian survey found that 87% of respondents would consider switching to e-cigarettes “if they were legal, met quality and safety standards, and were conveniently available”.

In Singapore, e-cigarettes are banned and new rules to enforce the ban will be enforced from mid-December.

That has caused many vapers to flock to Johor to fulfil their needs and encouraged many to break down the components of the smoking utensil to make it easier to smuggle them into the republic.

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