October 25, 2015

There is no clear indication that cigarettes will ever be completely banned in spite of their known health risks, and yet, there are worldwide calls for bans on e-cigarettes/vapes, which according to current research is notably less harmful.

In her article in Forbes, Sally Satel examines the cigarette industry in China and how studies have shown that “smoking will cause about 20% of all adult male deaths in China during the 2010s”.

And yet, in what she describes as “an Orwellian inversion statement” (a reference to the novel 1984 by George Orwell, where the government – Big Brother – controls its citizens’ every move and issues statements like “war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength”), public health departments are coming down hard on e-cigarettes while apparently ignoring actual cigarettes. She writes that they are “effectively telling smokers they might as well keep puffing because e-cigarettes are hardly any safer”.

In raw numbers, the annual deaths in China caused by tobacco will rise from about 1 million in 2010 to 2 million in 2030 and 3 million in 2050, unless there is widespread cessation…

These facts show how nonsensical it is to consider a ban on e-cigarettes while failing to call for one on cigarettes. After all, cigarettes are 20-100 times more dangerous than vaping.

In Malaysia, about 20,000 people die annually due to smoking. And while the anti-smoking campaign “Tak Nak!” has been successful in that majority of smokers now know that smoking is detrimental to health, Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam admitted (in an article published in April) that these smokers face difficulties quitting.

As the parliament meetings continue and vaping comes up in their discussions, something to ponder is: Will public health policy makers in Malaysia pull a Big Brother on Malaysians as well?

Photo by Thomas Hawk

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