Suspected vaping-linked illness
Published on: Saturday, November 09, 2019
By: Bernama
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LABUAN: A teenager has been warded at the Labuan Nucleus Hospital for severe internal lung damage suspected to have been caused by vaping, making it the first such case reported here.

In a statement Friday, Labuan Health Department Director Dr Ismuni Bohari said a thorough investigation was being carried out to determine the actual cause of the 17-year-old boy’s lung complications.

“The boy was admitted on Nov 4 initially due to breathing difficulties…he is actually an asthmatic and has received asthma treatment in the Internal Care Unit (ICU).

“However, when he was in the ICU, he was diagnosed with having internal lung injuries besides symptoms of rhabdomyolysis and kidney failure,” he said.

Dr Ismuni said investigations showed the boy had been vaping for two weeks before he was admitted to the ICU.

“Our investigations also revealed the boy was not only suffering from severe internal lung injuries but could also be due to autoimmune disease caused by chemical exposure or vaping,” he said.

He urged people not to speculate as investigations were continuing.

It was reported Friday that the Health Ministry is studying whether to implement a full ban on vape or electronic cigarettes following a worrying rise in the vaping habit among youths.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the Ministry has set up a special committee to study the matter.

The committee, he said, was formulating a special bill on the control of vape and cigarettes in the country.

“We are looking at some countries that have banned e-cigarettes. However, these are still available online and are even sold openly in these countries,” he said.

“We will need to have more data to make a better policy decision,” Dr Lee said, adding that the special task force that was looking into drawing up a new law to control tobacco, vaping and shisha was gathering information. 

He added that despite the availability of studies in the US and UK pertaining to health issues and regulations, it was still insufficient to make any decisions yet.

It was reported that some 50 associations and non-governmental organisations throughout the country have signed a memorandum to urge the government to impose a total ban on the use of e-cigarettes and vaping immediately.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the Health Ministry is aware of the vaping-related illness reported abroad and will continue to monitor the situation in the country.

He said the Ministry would take the necessary steps to make sure any such cases occurring locally would be reported and treated accordingly.

"The Health Ministry is monitoring all the vape related illness abroad and locally,” he said when asked to comment on a foreign media agency report quoting the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention  that the number of deaths from a mysterious lung illness linked  to the use of e-cigarettes has risen to 39 in the United States (US).


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