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PN submits motion to debate suspected nicotine poisoning of 2-year-old

Tanjong Karang MP Zulkafperi Hanapi says it is a matter of urgent and public importance.

Staff Writers
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A worker inspects the metal heating element in an e-cigarette that produces vapour from e-juices, at a vape shop in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: AFP
A worker inspects the metal heating element in an e-cigarette that produces vapour from e-juices, at a vape shop in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: AFP

Tanjong Karang MP Zulkafperi Hanapi has submitted a motion for debate to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul on the recent case of suspected nicotine poisoning involving a two-year-old girl. 

The motion, submitted under Standing Order Clause 18(1) and (2), which allows MPs to request permission to debate matters that are "urgent and of public importance", was filed yesterday and received by the speaker's office on the same day, health portal CodeBlue reports.

"This motion is clearly related to nicotine which can now be freely used by the public, including children, following the exemption from the Poisons Act 1952 given by the health minister's own authority," Zulkafperi was quoted as saying. 

"This motion is urgent, as nicotine is already in the market and there is no legislation regulating its use.

"This motion is also a matter of public interest as it (nicotine) can be abused by anyone, including babies, children, schoolchildren, women, or pregnant women." 

He also expressed concern that the public would believe nicotine is safe for open use and does not pose a danger.  

Describing this as a wrong impression, he said it stemmed from Putrajaya's move to delist liquid or gel nicotine – the main component of vape products – from the Poisons Act.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa recently said that nicotine would no longer be a controlled substance under the act, a decision implemented despite objection from the Poisons Board. 

The move allowed the government to tax the vape industry, as announced in the 2023 Budget.

"The case of this two-year-old might be just the tip of the iceberg, and the people might see worse cases in the days ahead," Zulkafperi was quoted as saying. 

"Who will be blamed or should take full responsibility for this nicotine disaster?"

The health ministry had said that the girl was believed to have suffered acute nicotine poisoning on May 30.

It said she was found to be coughing, vomiting and having difficulty breathing, and that a disposable e-cigarette or vape device was found on the floor near her.

She was sent to hospital as she needed respiratory assistance at the children's ICU. She reportedly suffered two seizures while receiving treatment, but was last reported to be stable and breathing without the aid of a ventilator. 

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