Proper regulation to prevent youth from vaping, says expert


The proper regulation is more effective than prohibition in preventing vape use among the youth, according to an addiction psychotherapist and board member of the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association.

In a recent interview with CNA938, Singapore’s top news station, Andrew da Roza said vaping should be legalized and regulated like cigarettes, with a strict minimum age limit.  He said regulation would also provide adult smokers with a less harmful alternative to combustible cigarettes.

The current penalties are adequate, but enforcement needs improvement, he said. “No one really gets punished for vaping in Singapore, to be honest,” Da Roza said. “Even though the numbers are high, it is still very apparent in Singapore.”

“You do not want people to be criminalized,” he said.

Da Roza said the vast majority of vapers are smokers, and adults. “If you regulate it, then smokers can buy vapes from reputable retailers, and the black market will shrink,” da Roza said.

Da Roza said Singapore needs “regulation so that we have liquids in Singapore that we know what’s in them, and we know that they’re the safest liquids available at the time and in the future.”

“It is possible to create a liquid that is as safe as nicotine replacement therapy, and they do exist,” he said. “But we need to regulate that to make sure they exist here in Singapore.”

“We can see evidence in countries that have regulated vapes,” Da Roza said. “You can see the difference in the black markets. Compared to countries that have regulated and have not – black market has evidently reduced in those that have regulated. So it’s very, very important we regulate.”

The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry announced mandatory certification of imported and locally manufactured vape products starting June 5, 2024, to ensure safety and quality.

“No vape products should enter the country, especially if they do not bear product standard (PS) marks/license or ICC marks,” said DTI-Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Amanda Nograles.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue announced that effective June 1, 2024, Revenue Memorandum Circular 59-2024 mandates the use of new tax stamps to be affixed on all vape products sold in the country to curb the proliferation of unregulated vape products in the market.

Citing scientific literature, da Roza said vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes. He disputed claims that vaping is worse because the vapor travels deeper into the lungs.

“Cigarette toxins stay in the lungs after inhalation, while vapor does not,” he said.

Studies show quitting vaping is easier than quitting smoking, da Roza said. “Cigarettes contain more than just nicotine – they have other very dangerous chemicals,” he said. “Vaping is not as addictive.”

Da Roza said vaping could even help reduce smoke production, benefiting the environment.

“Britain encourages cigarette smokers to switch to vaping to quit, and some hospitals in psychiatric clinics even give out vapes,” he said.

Da Roza suggested regulating vapes like alcohol and cigarettes to keep them out of children’s hands. He also said education campaigns based on scientific evidence are needed to inform youths about the risks of vaping.

“Vaping is not the same as smoking tobacco or cigarettes, and it’s definitely not as harmful,” da Roza said. “A well-regulated vaping option is the way forward for Singapore.”

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