The video shows Hishammuddin sneaking a vape behind his face mask while his colleague, Transport Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong, is speaking during Parliamentary proceedings. After the video was leaked, Hishammuddin, apologised on Twitter promising not to vape during Parliament proceedings again. “Sorry, I didn’t realise – it’s a new habit. I apologise to the Dewan and promise not to do it again,” he tweeted.
An approximate 25% of Malaysia’s population smokes, and this high rate can be partly attributed to the lack of harm reduction initiatives by local lawmakers.
In October 2018, former health minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad had declared Parliament as a non-smoking area, while in April 2019, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, had announced a new bill regulating cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the same way. “The new bill will underline all regulations and controls on e-cigarettes and vapes, including the sales guidelines,” he said at the time.
To this effect, Hishammuddin was forced to pay a fine. Generally, anyone caught breaking the regulation incurs a maximum of RM500 (US$119) compound and can be fined up to RM10,000 (US$2,387) or face imprisonment of up to two months, or both.
Tobacco harm reduction remains disregarded
Malaysia retains a very harsh stance towards vaping and not long ago Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad, has even mentioned that a total vape ban was being considered. “A detailed study is required to review the need for enforcing a total ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes and vapes,” he said, adding that the ministry had set up a committee to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, an approximate 25% of Malaysia’s population smokes, and this rate can be partly attributed to the lack of harm reduction/smoking cessation initiatives, by local lawmakers. Last year shadow finance minister and former minister of youth and sports Khairy Jamaluddin, had expressed his opinion about the use of e-cigarettes as harm reduction tools. “I’m more for harm reduction, which means you try to minimise the negative effects. It’s the idea that certain addictions can be re-routed towards less-harmful, non-lethal behaviour,” said Jamaluddin.
Read Further: South China Morning Post