One study revealed that 42% of Malaysian smokers managed to quit by switching to vape.
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So the Malaysian government, i.e the Health Ministry (KKM), plans to slowly eradicate smoking by making it illegal for anyone born after 2005 to purchase cigarettes and other smoking products such as e-cigarettes and vapes in the country.
This plan was announced by KKM Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar at the 150th Session of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Executive Board Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland where he relayed optimism of passing the legislation in 2022.
To simplify, this could mean that people who are 17 and under today would not be allowed to legally acquire smoking products when they come of age, but existing smokers would still be allowed to buy such products if the law passes.
The idea is promoted as a “generational endgame” that hopes to essentially place an expiry date on the unhealthy habit and prevent the further offset of non-communicable diseases (NCD) related to smoking by creating a future smoke-free era for Malaysia.
It’s also thought of as a step up from the no-smoking campaigns the country has implemented in recent history, which some believe had failed to achieve any positive results.
Would a total ban on smoking help or should we look into other solutions to the problem?
The latest set of data provided by the government estimated that there are about 4.9 million smokers in Malaysia aged 15 and above, and we’ve been really slow at trying to lower those numbers.
But, there’s been promise that tackling this problem through better policies and regulations could spark progressive changes in the country.
Local think-tank, the Datametrics Research and Information Centre (DARE), portrayed alternative public health programs like Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) strategies, which encourage smokers to switch to less harmful smoking products, as a pragmatic way of reducing the prevalence of smoking in Malaysia.
By helping people to quit smoking, it’s estimated that THR methods such as using electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) like vapes have the potential to reduce the number of Malaysian smokers to just 4 million.
The strategy also has the potential of reducing the country’s spending to treat smoking-related NCDs by RM1.3 billion by 2025.
DARE’s recent surveys show that 80% of Malaysians believe THR strategies could work at getting people to finally put away their cigarette smoking habits by switching to something less harmful.
A further 95% of Malaysians agreed that the government should be involved in implementing THR strategies to ensure the safety and the quality of the products being sold to consumers.
Additionally, the 2019 Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health revealed that 90% of vapers in Malaysia are exclusively former and current smokers whereas 42% of those who managed to quit smoking did so by switching to vaping daily.
Read More: 42% Quit Smoking Using Vape In Malaysia
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s vape industry believes that we should focus on industry-specific regulations that separate vaping from traditional cigarettes.
The Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy (MVIA) group explains that smokers from all over the world have progressively switched to vapes, proving that they do help people quit lighting up.
The NGO believes that the government must play a crucial role in shaping the local vape industry to grow and aid more Malaysian smokers to extinguish their unhealthy habits.
Through their consumer polls, MVIA found that 85% of Malaysians agreed that switching from cigarettes to vape has helped to slowly bring down the number of smokers in the country.
Meanwhile, 68% of respondents in the survey perceived vaping to be less harmful than ordinary cigarettes, and 92% think it’s best for us to develop our own set of industry-specific rules and regulations to lay the foundations for a smoke-free era in Malaysia
Countries like the United Kingdom are already benefiting from the implementation of THR programs and encouraging the use of ENDS like vapes to radically reduce the numbers of their smokers and nicotine addicts associated with cigarettes.
Results from a 2020 study done in the UK show that over 58% of the people who vape there were not addicted to the products and that most vapers were former cigarette smokers who went with switching to the less harmful option.
And though countries like New Zealand also aims to implement their own generational endgame to smoking by banning those born after 2008 from legally buying cigarettes in their lifetime, their health policies still encourage the use of THR programs and ENDS as a cheaper and easier way for people to quit smoking for good, and a more realistic path towards creating a smokeless generation ahead.
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