KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — In conjunction with World Vape Day 2023, two local vape advocacy groups urged the federal government to reconsider its generational end game (GEG) policy, if it is serious about reducing the harm caused by tobacco.

Malaysian vape consumer advocacy group Malaysia Vapers Alliance (MVA) and the Advanced Centre for Addiction Treatment Advocacy (ACATA) urged the government to consider removing vape under its GEG policy to ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2005.

ACATA president Dr Arifin Fii said as a medical practitioner, with an interest in addiction therapy, he has encountered many patients who have the will to quit but do not have the right tools or support.

“While existing smoking cessation aids can be useful, they have not proven to be successful for most smokers.

“Alternatives like vape, which have been scientifically proven to be less harmful than cigarettes and an effective quit aid, can play a role in reducing smoking prevalence,” he said in a media release today.

Dr Arifin’s view was shared by MVA president Khairil Azizi Khairuddin who said that as an ex-smoker he successfully quit by using vape, which is significantly less harmful than tobacco.

“This is why I am so passionate about advocating for the rights of vape users. We cannot discount the advantages of embedding harm reduction strategies in Malaysia if we want to transform the country into a tobacco-free nation by 2040,” he said.

Both the views from MVA and ACATA were expressed during a roundtable session held in Bangsar here yesterday.

On the proposed GEG policy, Dr Arifin said prohibiting an entire generation from access to smoking products, be it cigarettes or vape, is noble but highly idealistic.

He pointed out that there is no single country that has completely eradicated cigarettes and vape, despite introducing policies and programmes that cost millions.

“While we can put it on paper that with GEG, the entire future generation will not know cigarettes or vape. The reality is addicted smokers, regardless of their age, will find ways to get their hands on the product they want.

“The best way to support these individuals is by giving them the right tools to help them quit,” added Dr Arifin.

Khairil Azizi said the GEG policy will certainly not result in reducing the country’s smoking prevalence to less than five per cent, which is the country’s target.

“In fact, our smoking prevalence will likely increase, as smokers will turn to illegal channels, which have no guidelines or restrictions,” he said.

Since last year, MVA has advocated for Malaysia’s vape regulations to be based on aiming at encouraging smokers to quit smoking by switching to vape that is proven to be less harmful.

MVA has proposed a Vape Bill, similar to the Philippines’ Vape Bill, by putting in place regulations that are different from cigarettes and helping smokers to switch such as allowing promotion and advertisement of vape products to smokers.