Leading e-cigarette researcher and eminent cardiologist Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos has paid a first visit to Malaysia to see for himself the growing vaping market there and to discuss policy with the Malaysian Health Ministry.
Following an in-depth meeting at Putrajaya with Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Helmi Yahaya, Dr Farsalinos said he believed the ministry understood the fundamentals of the issue – that e-cigarettes present a major opportunity to improve public health – and that Malaysia would indeed move to regulate e-cigarettes for its consumers, rather than ban them. “Dr Helmi was interested in the topic and asked many pertinent questions,” he said, “and I believe he understood how the industry here can be regulated for safety and quality and to ensure they are kept away from youth.”
Dr Farsalinos was in Kuala Lumpur for a seminar at which he presented his research and his latest views on ways to regulate e-cigs to an invited audience of experts and vapers.
Malaysia has a thriving manufacturing industry and a large number of vapers. They fear the government may ban the devices in the light of well-publicised scare stories that have centred on local cultural issues and the alleged presence in e-cigarette vapour of certain chemicals following a US-published report earlier this year – now comprehensively debunked by Dr Farsalinos and his team who have demanded that the New England Journal of Medicine retract the offending research article.
Dr Farsalinos told the seminar – and Dr Helmi – of the “paradox” of allowing open sale of conventional cigarettes which he described as “the most lethal” while restricting (in some countries banning) an alternative which can be used to stop smoking and is “at least 95 percent safer” than smoking.
He believes the European Union’s Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) which comes into force in May 2016 will adequately regulate the quality of manufacture and ingredients in e-cigarettes, and address availability issues to ensure they are not used by young people. However, in his latest work (in the scientific journal Risk Management and Healthcare Policy), he argues that it would be better to treat e-cigarettes as a new and separate category that can be regulated to a large extent using existing legislation covering food and other consumer items.