PETALING JAYA: The previous Cabinet had rejected a Health Ministry proposal to ban vaping and e-cigarettes four years ago.

Now, there are renewed calls from medical experts to prohibit these items in view of 450 reports of lung diseases and at least six deaths related to their use.

The ministry’s recommendation then was based on findings by a team of experts tasked with looking into the dangers these products pose to consumers.

“When the issue to ban vaping was brought up, there were different views among Cabinet members,” said then health minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam yesterday.

“It was decided that vaping be regulated and vaping products that contain nicotine should come under the purview of the Health Ministry. Vaping products that do not contain nicotine would be regulated by the Domestic Trade and Industry Ministry and other relevant ministries.”

He said there was not enough evidence on the dangers of vaping then.

In 2017, the United Kingdom allowed e-cigarettes to be sold as a medical option to curb smoking, he added.

Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control president and Malaysian Medical Association Action on Smoking and Health Committee chairman Prof Datuk Dr Lekhraj Rampal said there were many unknown factors about the dangers of vaping, prompting the expert team to recommend that it should be banned.

He said he was a member of the team that decided vaping should only be allowed after more research was carried out on its dangers.

“The chemical composition in vaping products is unknown and therefore, the danger it poses is also unknown.”

He pointed out that it could take some 10 to 15 years for symptoms to manifest and by then, it would be too late.

He added that vaping should only be allowed after the World Health Organisation declares it safe.

“Reports coming out of the United States about the dangers and deaths involving vaping is not surprising because very little is known about the dangers of vaping.”

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Ganabaskaran Nadason said the American Medical Association (AMM), which is one of the most influential physician groups in the US, has called for the public to cease vaping until scientists fully understand its effects.

“I think this is something that the Health Ministry needs to be concerned about now that there are deaths and health issues related to vaping being reported in the US.

“As a precautionary measure, we urge those who vape to go for a medical check-up as soon as possible. We also advise them to give up the habit as any kind of smoking is hazardous to health.”

The AMM has urged Americans to stop using electronic cigarettes of any sort until scientists have a better handle on the cause of the 450 lung disease cases and at least six deaths linked to use of the products.