WHILE cigarette smoking has fallen in recent years due to anti-tobacco campaigns launched by the government and other health advocacy and organizations and greater awareness about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, vaping is increasing.
Although vaping has been in trouble with the government since 2014, it has enjoyed a lack of regulation and an explosion of products, especially from China.
Malaysians have easy access to a wide variety of vaping products, potions and juices. In addition, anyone can order a vaping device online with just a click.
Vape juice can also be found in a variety of flavours, including bubble gum and crème Brulee. Unfortunately, there is no standardization on nicotine levels.
There is no industry standard, oversight or regulation that can guide the contents of juices and the number of substances to be added.
High nicotine levels in vape juice (up to 5%) can increase dependence. You will soon become addicted to the vape juice if you begin using it.
In the United States, there has been much evidence that vape users have suffered severe lung damage, especially from the low safety standards of their vaping devices and the harmful substances in the juice. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical responsible for most of the psychological effects of marijuana.
Although vaping may seem safer than smoking cigarettes, there is more to it than that. Vaping can also attract new users who have never smoked cigarettes.
This is especially true for young people who vape is a popular trend. It is also cheaper than smoking cigarettes. Vaping products are much more affordable than cigarettes due to their high taxes.
Last year, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Finance Minister, announced taxes on vape juice. Although this is a positive step, the proposed price of RM0.40 per mL (less than US$0.10) seems a little too low. This is a far cry from South Korea, where the vape juice tax was increased from 525 won (RM1.90) to 1,050 won (RM3.75) last fiscal year.
Vaping, already popular among youths with a low vape juice tax, will become even more attractive. However, this is not what the government should do to stop children from smoking and eradicate the habit.
To discourage youths from vaping, the government must do more. The best way to do so is to impose a higher tax on vape juices (especially those containing nicotine). It should be similar to the tax on cigarettes, if possible.
The government should make it clear that they recognize the dangers of vaping and its effects on youths.
The Finance Ministry would be responsible for the rise in vaping following low taxes on vape juice. The Finance Ministry could Health Ministry offer advice?