Open letter to YB Ismail Sabri- I beg to differ


Referring to the statement by our none other Rural and Regional development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who has been a notorious supporter of the vaping community, regarding being world-famous for vape flavours, I would beg to differ. It boggles the mind how one wants his country to be famous for a different reason.

As of today, Malaysia is already famous for its Petronas Twin Towers, its KLIA, its Grand Prix track, its batik, the Malaysian hospitality, and many others, without the need to resort to an activity with negative connotations, and banned in several countries which are far more advanced than ours.

If flavours are what we are looking for, I am sure the flavourful durian, nangka madu, cempedak, not forgetting many other local fruits, have touched and mesmerised the international taste buds, all without the need to incorporate them in an electronic device, bursting with artificiality.

It is of utmost concern that our minister in charge of rural and regional development look deeply into the social problems in the rural areas which are translated into many medical problems needed to be tackled by the Health Ministry before becoming too enthusiastic in introducing a new addiction amongst youth.

I would like to boil down the focus to drugs and drug related problems. Statistics since the year 2012 till 2014, the number of drug abusers has continued to rise despite efforts by the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) and Health Ministry to curb this problem.

On Oct 12 2015, Suhaimi Abdullah, the chief director of AADK, expressed his concerns regarding the rise in numbers of drug addicts among rural youths of up to 13.4 percent as of last August.

Youths resort to substance abuse due to many factors, and studies show that among them were peer pressure, curiosity, entertainment and accessibility. These are the exact same reasons why many non-smokers resort to vaping as a trend, assuming that it is harmless.

In the USA it seems that vaping had already made the news in September for causing drug overdose through the usage of liquid synthetic drugs made in China. We are currently struggling to reach our target of making Malaysia drug-free (due this year) even without vape, I dread thinking of the projected outcome when vape sellers start to come up with their own concoction of synthetic drugs.

While Ismail Sabri looks at vape as a new means for entrepreneurship and innovation, how many new entrepreneurs will actually benefit from this at the expense of others? While a majority of our society will continue becoming consumers, spend unnecessarily on a device and its chemical which do not contribute to health and well-being, we are actually looking at a new social problem, endorsed by a minister who seems to look at it at a very shallow aspect.

Malaysia today boasts as the second-largest vape industry in the world, behind the USA. How many lives are going to be at stake, and how many billions of ringgit are going down the drain when established illnesses caused by vaping start to flourish. At that particular moment, the only thing left to do is damage control as in the case of conventional cigarettes.

The only part where I believe vapers and their supporters have got their minds in the right place is when they urge the banning of tobacco if vape was to be banned. With all due respect, please do, and get down with the alcohol when you’re at it. It is a contradiction when you urge for abstinence due to health reasons and make the products available easily.

I believe that we have enough health and social problems to deal with already minus vape. Researches have yet to prove vaping to be a safer alternative to smoking, or even an alternative at all. We should stop investing in short term profit reaping enterprises when in the long run it will cost us the sustainability of generations to come. Prevention is definitely better than cure.



Dr Fatimah Zaharah Rosli

Medical Officer

I-Medik Activist