LETTER | If banning the sale of tobacco and vape merchandise can cut back the prevalence of smoking; then illicit medicine ought to have been eradicated and there wouldn’t be a necessity for a narcotics unit, drug rehabilitation centre and drug smuggling.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin not too long ago mentioned that with tobacco use being the main reason behind most cancers, which contributes to 22 p.c of mortality charges, a brand new regulation will probably be tabled in Parliament to ban smoking and possession of tobacco merchandise for these born after 2005.
The intention of the federal government is sweet as a result of smoking is a preventable reason behind non-communicable ailments. However, if previous experiences have taught us about combating the usage of illicit substances equivalent to heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine; decreasing tobacco use requires greater than the passing of a regulation.
It is vital to know that the combustion of tobacco, which releases dangerous chemical substances equivalent to formaldehyde, lead, benzene, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide and others is the trigger for most cancers.
Therefore, if the primary thought is tobacco discount, we must be taking a look at evidence-based research to enrich the regulation and handle the usage of tobacco amongst present people who smoke.
The Health Ministry’s 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) estimates that there are 4.8 million Malaysian people who smoke. In the identical yr, it was reported that over a seven-year interval, solely 73,836 people who smoke participated in smoking cessation programmes in Malaysia, with all of 16,930 quitting inside six months.
The statistics and efforts by the federal government proves that the present public well being agenda in addressing smoking is just not working and there must be a change in technique to deal with tobacco use.
Addiction to smoking is akin to dependancy to caffeine and the usage of illicit substances. The success price of individuals in dependancy quitting chilly turkey may be very low. The subsequent finest different in combating dependancy is to steadily cut back the usage of dangerous substances.
In 2015, the Health Ministry’s NHMS had no statistics on the usage of e-cigarettes of vape, whereas within the 2019 survey, it’s talked about that there are over 1 million e-cigarette or vape customers and there may be disaggregated information by state on these classes.
With the federal government recognising that e-cigarettes and vape are a rising pattern amongst adults, it is very important notice that the usage of e-cigarettes and vape can help people who smoke to give up smoking.
Certain quarters will argue that e-cigarettes are additionally a type of smoking as a result of they include nicotine and are equally dangerous to well being. However, e-cigarettes and vapes don’t contain the combustion of tobacco and permit the person to inhale nicotine within the type of vapour as an alternative of smoke.
Smoking and vaping trials abroad have additionally proven that e-cigarettes and vape are 50 p.c simpler than nicotine alternative remedy, which incorporates nicotine patches, gums and mouth sprays.
While the proportion of e-cigarette and vape customers is low, it’s crucial for the federal government to develop insurance policies which can be proportionate to the chance of the product. Having a distinct technique, regulation and tax price for e-cigarettes and vaping could doubtlessly encourage present people who smoke to modify to a much less dangerous product.
If laws on nicotine merchandise are to be carried out, the insurance policies also needs to be parallel with the demand market. Imposing a blanket ban or a excessive tax price will encourage folks to go to the black market, similar to illicit medicine.
Having a gradual part out of tobacco inside society takes time, particularly with a product that dates 12,300 years in the past, and it requires greater than only a principle to stop entry.
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