Government / Public Policy

Ministry categorises nicotine replacement products as non-poisons

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has taken proactive steps by categorising nicotine replacement products as non-poisons, allowing people to gain better access to them.

Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, in a statement today, said the move was done by granting an exemption to nicotine under the Poisons Act 1952 for products in the form of patches or gum registered under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984, both of which are used as aids to quit smoking.

The exemption comes into force starting today, in accordance with the gazettement of the Poisons (Amendment of Poisons List) Order 2022 yesterday.

Khairy said through this exemption, access to nicotine replacement products in the form of patches or gum were now easier through over-the-counter purchases, including at retail or convenience stores that carry the products.

"Such a practice has been implemented in many countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

"This exception is expected to help smokers, who are motivated to quit smoking, in dealing with the withdrawal symptoms."

At present, smokers who want to quit smoking have limited access to nicotine replacement products as it is regulated under the Poisons Act 1952.

Under the law, nicotine is classified as "Group C poison" and can be dispensed only by licensed pharmacists or registered medical practitioners.

Currently, there are two treatment methods to quit smoking as outlined in the Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG): Treatment for Tobacco Use Disorder, namely through medication using nicotine replacement products and behavioural intervention.

Khairy said the ministry would boost its advocacy on smoking cessation programmes.

"This will be done by encouraging smokers to register with the existing programmes, such as mQuit."

Khairy said the ministry had always strived to ensure good health among the people including in promoting healthy lifestyle practices.

"In this regard, the ministry has presented the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, to regulate the cigarette industry and smoking activities for the benefit of the public.

"In addition to this bill and the Generational Endgame (GEG) campaign, the ministry is actively implementing various programmes to create a smoke-free society, such as the Quit Smoking Clinic which is available at health clinics nationwide."

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