Expert: E-cigs share same success rate as nicotine patches, gum to kick smoking habit

Serdang Hospital’s consultant pulmonologist Dr Jamalul Azizi Abdul Rahaman said there was no need to rely on vaping or e-cigarettes as a new method to stop smoking. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Serdang Hospital’s consultant pulmonologist Dr Jamalul Azizi Abdul Rahaman said there was no need to rely on vaping or e-cigarettes as a new method to stop smoking. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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PUTRAJAYA, Dec 2 — E-cigarettes are no different from the use of nicotine patches and chewing gum as replacement therapies to help smokers quit, a medical expert told a Health Ministry forum on vaping.

As such, the expert, Serdang Hospital’s consultant pulmonologist Dr Jamalul Azizi Abdul Rahaman, said there was no need to rely on vaping or e-cigarettes as a new method to stop smoking.

“I mean if we want to argue about it, we can go on and on and on and it will never end. Of course there is nicotine in vape just like in the chewing gum but studies have shown that there is no difference actually in terms of success rate when wanting to quit smoking using replacement therapy by using chewing gum, e-cigarette or vape.

“It helps but only up to 50 per cent, not 100 per cent. The quit rate using chewing gum and nicotine patch is only 50 per cent not 100 per cent, so why do we need to add on vape if we already have the patch and chewing gum?” Dr Jamalul said.

The expert added that the best way to quit smoking is willpower.

“Some people can just go cold turkey without using chewing gum. It’s your mental willpower actually which is the most important factor to decide whether you are going to quit smoking — not vape or chewing gum or nicotine patches,” he told journalists when met later.

Dr Jamalul also rebutted claims by some vapers who claimed that the habit helped them quit smoking.

He also urged Putrajaya to follow in the steps of Thailand and Singapore where vaping has been banned.

“It’s (a) gateway to smoking in future. If we can, yes we would like to follow Singapore and Thailand, which has completely banned vaping,” he added.

Dr Jamalul said that while cigarettes pose a bigger threat to a person’s health due to the number of chemicals in them, medical experts also fear the possibility of drug abuse by vape users who jury-rig their devices.

“So e-cigarettes and vapes are not useful to help people quit smoking,” he insisted.

Last month, PKR’s Gooi Hsiao Leung told the Dewan Rakyat that vaping helped him give up smoking, a habit he said he had for over two decades.

The lawmaker, who was making his case against the government’s clampdown on the vape trade, used his experience as an example of the benefits of vaping.

“I was (a) smoker myself, for more than 20 years. And I couldn’t stop myself from smoking, I tried many ways to stop smoking… until I tried vape three months ago,” the Alor Setar MP said.

“In three weeks, I stopped smoking. I even stopped vaping. So, I believe based on other researches and my own experience, vape can help smokers face their withdrawal symptoms and prevent them from returning to smoking.”

Putrajaya has been sending mixed messages over vaping with the Health Ministry conducting raids on such outlets even as Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob encouraged their expansion.

However, the Health Ministry, undeterred by criticism over its raids, insisted that “vaping” outlets cannot stock or sell vaping liquids that have nicotine in them as long as they are not approved to do so by the Pharmacy Board.

Last week in an interview with The Star, Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar said he wanted vape outlets in the state to be shuttered by January 1 over health concerns.

The Health Ministry has since commended the Johor Sultan’s call to ban vape outlets, but did not say if Putrajaya will move to ban vaping.

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