KUALA LUMPUR – “Throw out the ciggies, bring in the vape”, seems to be the mantra of Malaysian nicotine addicts who are under the impression that vaping is “less injurious to health” and will help them kick the smoking habit.
Why, even people who have never smoked before seem eager to vape just because it was the in-thing in their social circles.
Long-time smoker Zulkifli Zin, 32, who is also into vaping these days, has this piece of friendly advice for non-smokers who wish to try out vaping: “Why do you even want to try vaping? Both smoking or vaping yield no benefits and don’t give you much pleasure, either. Cigarette or vape, once you get trapped, it’s very difficult to escape from its clutches.”
The growing popularity of vapes or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) among Malaysians has attracted much debate in recent months. Earlier this month, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said e-cigarette liquids or juices containing nicotine were required to be registered as per the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984, which come under the Sale of Drugs Act 1952.
Such liquids could only be supplied by licensed pharmacists and registered medical practitioners who have to keep records of all the sales, said Noor Hisham, adding that according to the Poisons Act 1952, the sale of nicotine by other parties was unlawful.
It was reported recently that Malaysia’s vape industry, catering to about one million vapers, was estimated to be the second largest in the world, after the United States. These statistics are indeed a cause for concern.
A VARIETY OF FLAVOURS
Zulkifli, who is a freelance photojournalist, said all that publicity about vaping has made people more curious about what it was all about.
“And, the various flavours (of the e-liquids) are also attracting them. Some are sweet, some creamy… all kinds. But these flavours shouldn’t be turned into an excuse to try vaping,” said Zulkifli, who has smoking for the past 13 years and vaping two years back.
He said besides the lower nicotine content of e-liquids, most people were drawn to vaping as an alternative to smoking cigarettes because it did not produce any obnoxious-smelling smoke.
“In fact, even we smokers don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke lingering on our clothes. Vapers need not worry about any unpleasant odours because they use liquids with flavours like vanilla, apple, butterscotch and cake… the aroma may cause people around them to get hungry,” Zulkifli joked.
VAPE MORE ECONOMICAL
Zulkifli also admitted that vaping has become the choice of many people because it was more economical compared with smoking cigarettes.
“Only the starting cost is a bit high as the vape kit costs between RM150 and RM300. Each 30ml bottle of e-liquid costs RM30 to RM40 and if used daily, it can last for a week. Compare this with RM119 a week, which a smoker would have to spend if he smokes a RM17-pack a day,” he explained.
Pointing out that the government should carry out a more detailed study on the harmful effects of vaping before strictly regulating the sale of vapes and e-liquids, Zulkifli said he personally felt that cigarettes were more hazardous to health than vaping.
“Our country is known for its premium Made-in-Malaysia e-liquids and vape mods that are well-known and sought after by vapers in other countries,” said Zulkifli, who often goes on assignments overseas.
NOT FOR FUN
He also said that vaping was not something for people to pick up just because it was the in-thing.
“It’s not as simple as it looks. One needs to have some knowledge on how to use a vape. One must learn how to control the electronic gadget and service it to ensure its safety. It’s not some fun activity.”
Information technology engineer Mohd Shazwan Abdul Aziz, 37, a non-smoker, said the government should have realised the implications of vaping earlier on as the e-cigarette culture was not a new phenomenon in this country.
(Back in January 2013, the then Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had announced that the sale of e-cigarettes was not only illegal but the product exposed users to other chronic diseases as well.)
Most people, observed Mohd Shazwan, took to e-cigarettes because they felt vaping was more “cool” or sophisticated than smoking conventional cigarettes.
“It’s a psychological perception actually… maybe they have self-confidence issues. Anyway, vaping is supposed to help smokers overcome their nicotine addiction and it is also cheaper and appear to be more fashionable… this is why it is becoming popular among our younger generation,” he said.
He also observed that while smokers craved cigarettes because of their addiction to nicotine, vapers were more inclined to treat vaping as a form of hobby as they could also get to collect various optional accessories that could be used with their e-cigarette.
Mohd Shazwan also said that he was disgusted with the attitude of some vapers who vaped in places where smoking was prohibited, with the lame excuse that vaping did not produce smoke but steam.
“As for those who have never smoked in their lives, I can’t understand why
they would want to try vaping when hundreds of people out there are trying to quit smoking? It’s akin to inviting an illness when you don’t have one.
“It’s true that non-smokers and non-vapers can also get cancer, but why increase the risk?” – BERNAMA