KUALA LUMPUR: The act of vaping from an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) among school students including primary school pupil in Malaysia is troubling the parents and teachers as well as the community in general.
More worryingly, the number of students involved with this unhealthy activity seems to be increasing and not limited to just boys as school girls also took an interest in vaping.
Furthuring the problem, e-cigarette devices are easily available on the market, in stores or through online purchases. And vaping has become a trend among them, especially after school hours.
The Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye called for a stern and integrated action involving all stakeholders to address this issue.
“The relevant authorities need to take decisive action to stop the sale of e-cigarettes to school children while the school authorities must monitor and conduct awareness campaigns about the dangers of vaping to the health.
“While the parents must not simply leave their responsibilities to the school or the authorities. they should monitor their children’s activities to ensure that none of them were involved in the vaping activities,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.
He said, the absence of specific laws has made it difficult for the enforcement aspect and led to the widespread sale of the e-cigarette, although the use of it among adults are not prohibited.
“I am very hopeful that a new regulation on the control of e-cigarette as well as shisha could be tabled up in Parliament as soon as possible to address this problem.
While waiting for the new law to be introduced, Lee urged all parties to work together to raise awareness on the dangers of vaping and forbid it from the school compound.
“The Ministry of Education in a statement last Sunday said that based on their investigation, they found that the vaping devices were sold outside the school area. Hence, every other party need to lend a hand in combating the vaping activities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) education officer N.V. Subbarow suggested a ban on e-cigarettes or restricting license approval to the business premises that sell e-cigarette.
He said, without immediate action, the number of e-cigarette users among school students will continue to increase and subsequently expose them to various health problems.
“If we do not take action now, there will be no healthy youth in the next 10 years,” he said.
The principal investigator of the National E-cigarette Survey who is also the head of Pharmacy Practice Department in International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Assoc Prof Dr Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed believed that teenagers could easily be addicted to e-cigarettes because of the “feeling good” effect from the nicotine.
“Studies showed that teenagers are more sensitive to the ‘feeling good’ effect from the nicotine such as the feeling of pleasure and relaxation,” he said.
He also said that teenagers are more likely to tolerate higher nicotine doses.
“However, nicotine exposure in the early age is very troubling because it could be a gateway to substance abuse such as alcohol, cocaine and meth (methamphetamine),” he added.
He also highlighted that teenagers are not particularly aware of the dangers of the e-cigarettes, they might think that e-cigarettes are safe because they contained no tobacco.
“They did it for the excitement, copying friends who are vaping and thought that it is better than the normal cigarettes. They also have the wrong idea that e-cigarettes contain no tobacco or nicotine,” he said.
In the meantime, the honorary secretary of Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) Malaysia, Tunku Munawirah Putra urged for parents’ involvement to intervene in their children’s social interaction, to curb this issue.
“They need to know who their children’s friends are and they need to know how to educate their children that vaping is as harmful as smoking.
“Children see this (vaping) as a cool thing. The rebellious cool thing to do used to be smoking, nowadays it is vaping. To look cool is always the ‘in thing’ among school children and chances are they were influenced by their peers.
“Parents need to demonstrate the best example for their children and be approachable in educating their children,” she said when contacted via the WhatsApp application. — Bernama