As people become more aware of the dangers of smoking, many have taken steps to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked or to stop the bad habit.
Public and private health centres and pharmacies provide smoking- cessation services, which include evidence-based treatment.
These studies were based on large-scale population with medication that has been proven to be safe and effective.
Nicotine replacement therapy (Nicorette) and Varenicline (Champix) have been used by those who wanted to quit smoking, and they have done so.
Interestingly, there is not much evidence supporting e-cigarette use as an alternative method for smoking cessation.
Recently, the Institute of Public Health, Health Ministry, conducted a survey on the use of e-cigarettes among adolescents and adults in Malaysia (The Tobacco and E-cigarette Survey among Malaysia Adolescents and The National E-Cigarette Survey 2016). The results were disturbing.
The majority of those who use e-cigarette are dual users. This means that they smoke cigarettes and e-cigarette.
This is hazardous as it may result in nicotine overdose, which can lead to death. This can strengthen their addiction to nicotine, which hooked them to cigarettes in the first place.
Almost 70 per cent of the dual users stopped e-cigarette but continued smoking conventional cigarettes. Most school children and adolescents started using e-cigarettes out of curiosity.
The main pull factors were the flavours and smell of e-liquids. Many other dangerous substances can be introduced by drug pushers and dealers by just lacing the liquids.
Nearly 75 per cent of the study population felt that e-cigarettes were not useful to stop smoking and more than half wanted these to be banned.
DR RASHIDI MOHAMED PAKRI
Nicotine Addiction Research Group, Universiti Malaya