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Ban on e-cigarettes in S’pore will not be reviewed

MOH says e-cigarettes are not effective in reducing tobacco addiction.

Sulaiman Daud | April 2, 02:35 pm

The Ministry of Health will not budge from its position that e-cigarettes must be outlawed.

Melvin Yong, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, asked in Parliament on April 1 whether the Ministry would “review the ban” against e-cigarettes.

He said they could serve as an alternative to regular cigarettes for long-term smokers.

The ban will remain

In a written reply, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong reiterated his stance that e-cigarettes should remain banned.

Said Gan, “The current evidence on the role of e-cigarettes in aiding smoking cessation remains limited and mixed.”

He cited the results of a “randomised controlled trial” comparing e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy, which was published earlier this year.

It found that overall, less than four per cent of smokers who used e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking managed to totally quit the use of tobacco products and their nicotine addiction.

Instead, Gan pointed to other methods in Singapore available to those who wish to quit smoking, such as counselling and certain medications.

Reasons for the ban

But what about people who don’t want to quit and just want to use an e-cigarette?

According to Gan, there were three reasons why the ban must hold.

1. Harmful to health

Vapour from e-cigarettes contains toxic and cancer-causing substances.

2. Danger of “entrenchment”

Gan cited a statistic from one country, the UK, which showed that the number of adult e-cigarette users quadrupled to 2.8 million in 2016, as compared to 2012.

3. Gateway habit

Gan cited more studies from the U.S., Canada, England, Scotland and Poland that demonstrated that youths who used e-cigarettes were more likely to go on to become cigarette smokers.

Must provide evidence

Despite this long litany of reasons, Gan said that MOH is open to companies registering a specific e-cigarette product under the Health Products Act as a “therapeutic product” for weaning people off cigarettes.

However, that company has to provide evidence that the product is safe and effective, to MOH’s satisfaction.

And none have done so thus far, according to Gan.

Top image by Grav via Unsplash.

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve, although he is falling in love with Jodie Whittaker's Thirteen. He also writes about film and pop-culture, which you are very welcome to read here.

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