KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3, 2015:

A leading cardiologist believes the Malaysian government would be taking a step in the right direction by regulating e-cigarettes instead of banning them as it could save many from tobacco-related deaths.

Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, of the University of Patras in Greece, met Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya recently to present his case for e-cigarettes.

He said he was confident the ministry was considering the matter properly by taking all pertinent facts into account .

“I was positively surprised that the deputy minister was well informed on the issue. We had a very productive dialogue and discussion.

“He knows well about the subject and I’m confident that they’re going to start dealing with this issue soon.

“I can’t say what the timeline is going to be as this is not a decision that can be made overnight, but I think they’re going to work on it,” he told The Rakyat Post.

In August, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam said the government would take several months to make an announcement on shisha and e-cigarette smoking.

Last month, Dr Hilmi said  the Health Ministry was drafting a new law to regulate the use of tobacco products, taking into account the suitable control on the use of vape and the act of vaping.

He said the existing laws, such as the Control of Tobacco Products Regulations (Amendment) 2011 under the Food Act 1983, was seen as not so effective.

On the likelihood of a ban on vaping in Malaysia, Dr Farsalinos said the ministry did not indicate that would happen during the recent meeting.

“I don’t believe it will be making any announcement on the regulation or a ban. But the next announcement would probably be on the intention of what they’re going to do.

“It’s important to say that he (Hilmi) was well-informed about this issue. He knows about it and my impression is that he is going to work on this.

“I told him what I think, based on my research. I told him what I think is appropriate and we agreed that there is a need to regulate it in order to promote safe products being available in the market. That is something that we agree on,” said Dr Farsalinos, who has produced 35 scientific papers on e-cigarettes since 2011.

Asked about the dangers of regular cigarettes compared with its electronic counterpart, Dr Farsalinos said tobacco contained 2,000 times more amounts of nitrosamine, a major carcinogen which could cause cancer among smokers.

“Many other toxic chemicals are also totally absent from e-cigarrettes. For example, carbon monoxide is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease,

“But e-cigarettes do not contain any carbon monoxide for the simple reason that there is no combustion.”

He said regular cigarette smokers developed long-term poisoning from carbon monoxide and a recent study, comprising smokers and vapers, found that vapers had four times less carbon monoxide in their lungs compared with smokers.

“Basically, their carbon monoxide levels were the same as non-smokers. The reason why some people who do not smoke have carbon monoxide is because of environmental pollution.”



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