MoH rebuts use of vape as cessation aid

National 4 minutes, 17 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) warned members of the public yesterday not to take up electronic cigarettes or commonly known as ‘vape’ as a smoking cessation aid as it has never been assessed and approved by any international regulatory agencies.

The ministry in a statement issued yesterday advised smokers who have difficulty in quiting to instead make use of approved combination therapies such as counselling and nicotine replacement therapy, which can be obtained at cessation clinics at all health centres nationwide or at the National Dental Centre.

The ministry said that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the scientific research conducted to prove the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool is not sufficient and not convincing enough to support the claim and draw any concrete conclusions about it.

“It is believed to produce harmful substances that can affect health and its safety of use cannot be fully guaranteed,” the statement added.

At the present time, not a single e-cigarette has been registered and licensed as either a medical product or medical device that can allow it to be used by the public safely.

The statement added that e-cigarette or vape are products or devices that fall under the category “Electronic Nicotine Delivery System” or “ENDS”.

“It is a product or device that functions to resemble or imitate conventional cigarettes and use battery power to heat certain liquid commonly known as e-liquid or e-juice to produce vapour which looks similar to tobacco smoke.

“The vapour generated by e-cigarettes is not merely water vapour as is often claimed by some people but may contain harmful chemical substances including carcinogenic substances,” the ministry said in the statement.

The ministry also said that several scientific research done by other countries have found that nicotine content in various types of e-liquid can range from low to high levels.

The MoH said that smoking is defined under the Tobacco Order 2005 as inhaling and expelling the smoke of tobacco or any other substance and includes the holding of any cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other form of tobacco product which is alight or emitting smoke.

“Therefore, under Section 14(2) of the Tobacco Order 2005, vaping or inhaling and expelling vapour from e-cigarette or vape is included within the definition of smoking and anyone found vaping in specified public places where smoking is prohibited will be fined a compound of $300 for the first offence and $500 for the second and subsequent offences,” the ministry’s statement read.

Section 6(1) of the Tobacco Order 2005 also states that no person shall import, sell or offer for sale, any confectionery or other food product or any toy or other article that is designed to resemble tobacco products or which is sold in a package designed to resemble the packaging commonly associated with tobacco products.

“Therefore, the importation and sale of e-cigarette or vape in Brunei is considered an offence and any offender will be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 for the first offence and not exceeding $10,000 for the second and subsequent offences,” the ministry said.

Members of the public are advised to call the ministry’s Healthline 145 for more information regarding the smoking cessation services.

The ministry also advise the public to report any offences under Tobacco Order 2005 to the enforcement hotline 7192005 or via email at health.enforcement@moh.gov.bn.

Individuals in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday said that though they are aware of the prohibition, it does not stop them from using such devices entirely.

Adli Amali, a private sector employee, said that there should be other methods to identify whether or not vaping is dangerous or can be medically used to assist smokers to quit.

“Other researches (carried out) overseas are varied because while some may want to find out the truth, others may do it just so they could market and lobby their vaping products,” said the 27-year-old.

“Personally I think that if ever vaping is found to be harmless, then the government should consider its use to help smokers to quit and of course there should be a contra study on cigarette versus vaping too,” he added.

Meanwhile, an e-cigarette user and former smoker who wished to be known as Ming, said that his desire to smoke regular cigarettes disappeared since vaping became viral.

“But for sure one day I will stop vaping because the body will reject it,” said Ming.

He said that all of the e-liquid or ‘juice’ that he consumes are nicotine based.

“The level of nicotine in one bottle of 30ml (of e-liquid) varies. I usually buy (e-liquid that contains) 3mg and 6mg (of nicotine),” said the former smoker.

Another e-cigarette user, Tamara Ahmad, said that she would only use the product when she is at home or in private spaces away from the general public.

She said that the recent report of eight people who were fined for ‘vaping’ at a café in Beribi has made her more cautious. “Many people now have taken up vaping to cut down smoking cigarettes and I have the same reason as well… Honestly, I do not smoke as much now,” added the 27-year-old.

The Brunei Times