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GEORGETOWN: The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has urged the government to consider reinstating nicotine in the Poisons Act amid the rising trend of vaping among the Malaysian youth.

CAP senior education officer and anti-smoking activist N.V. Subbarow pointed out the ineffectiveness of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, which was implemented in November 2023, adding that vape liquids are now easily purchased in physical and online stores due to weak implementation of the law.

“If school children have access to vape devices, it shows the bill is grossly ineffective.

“Since the passing of the bill, we find vape products even more accessible. Retail outlets are selling a wide range of vape liquid flavours in attractive packaging that are appealing to all age groups,” he told theSun.

Subbarow said the absence of adopting “Generational End Game” elements in its entirety in the Tobacco Bill has led to a surge in underage vaping, adding that loopholes in the law allow easy access to these harmful substances, particularly among school children.

“The root problem is the exemption of nicotine as a controlled substance under the Poisons Act in March 2023 as it means nicotine-based vape liquids are just like other ordinary consumer products that can easily be purchased without a prescription.”

Refuting claims that nicotine is not a significant contributor to smoking-related diseases, he said nicotine is poison and highly addictive.

“It is nicotine that smokers and vapers get addicted to and continue with their self-destructive habit,” he said, adding that nicotine also causes an increase in blood pressure and a host of other health problems.

CAP also urged the government to maintain and enforce designated smoking zones, implemented since 2019, to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke.

The organisation supported initiatives like the Clean, Smoke-Free Premises Walkabout programme designed to ensure the cleanliness and safety of food premises, while promoting smoke-free environments.

“We should align smoking area policies with international standards, particularly the World Health Organisation Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, to provide 100% smoke-free public and workplace to safeguard the health of non-smokers.

“Smokers have to be at least 3m away from air-conditioned and non air-conditioned restaurants, coffee shops, open-air hawker centres and street stalls, where smoking is banned.”