THE Advanced Centre for Addiction Treatment Advocacy (ACATA) has strongly criticised the Malaysian government’s dissemination of misinformation regarding EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury), labelling it as fear-mongering tactics to bolster support for the generation endgame (GEG) policy.
ACATA condemns the deliberate spread of false information, emphasising that responsible policy-making should be rooted in evidence-based research and transparent dialogue rather than unfounded fears.
EVALI, a term consistently stressed by both local and international experts has only been reported in the US with subsequent cases notably absent. The outbreak in the US was attributed to the presence of vitamin E acetate in illicit tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) vape liquids.
ACATA president Dr Arifin Fii expressed grave concerns about the government’s perpetuation of the false narrative.
“The continuous propagation of the false narrative by the government and other parties raises serious concerns about their commitment to evidence-based policymaking. It is either a deliberate attempt to disseminate mistruths or a sign of ignorance on the facts surrounding EVALI.
“Regardless of the intention, this misinformation campaign misguides the public and hampers the potential of vaping as a smoking cessation tool,” he stated.
According to him, it is also deeply concerning that the Malaysian government is considering the GEG ban on less harmful products like vaping without taking into account the overwhelming evidence that vaping is a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.
“The GEG will not achieve the desired outcomes and may, in fact, exacerbate the public health crisis by pushing people back towards smoking. Even in New Zealand, the first country to consider this, vaping products are not part of the policy. And UK, the latest country considering such an extreme policy, has also excluded vape products from the equation,” he added.
Moreover, ACATA advocates for responsible harm reduction strategies in tobacco control efforts and urges the government to adopt an evidence-based approach. The organisation emphasised the importance of accurate information and harm reduction tools for Malaysians, aiming for a smoke-free future.
“ACATA calls on the Malaysian government to reconsider its stance on vaping and, instead, focus on harm reduction as a proven strategy to reduce smoking prevalence. Numerous studies have shown that vaping can be an effective tool in helping smokers transition away from combustible cigarettes, ultimately improving public health outcomes,” Dr Arifin concluded. – Oct 6, 2023
Main photo credit: Andrey Popov