Media Statement: Masters of Public Health Students’ Movement of the University of Malaya on the Issue of Exemption of Nicotine Fluids and Gels From the Poisons Act 1952

The Malaysian government has exempted nicotine liquid and gel from the Poisons Act 1953. A group of public health scholars from the University of Malaya held a press conference on 7th April 2023 at the Department of Community Medicine and Prevention, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya. In the press conference, they issued a media statement.

Press Statement

  1. Nicotine is POISON. It is a naturally poisonous chemical found in tobacco plants. Nicotine poisoning refers to the toxic effects of nicotine intake. Nicotine poisoning is a consequence of having too much nicotine in your body. Until recently, nicotine poisoning was rare. Most cases stem from the use of nicotine as an insecticide, accidental tobacco consumption or ingestion of nicotine-containing plants. Recently nicotine poisoning has become a growing concern due to new nicotine products on the market, especially electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and pure liquid nicotine. The concentration of nicotine in liquid products is higher than in most other tobacco products.
  2. Nicotine is a chemical that CAN KILL. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lethal dose of inhaled nicotine is 50 to 60 mg/kg in adults with 70 kg. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, just a teaspoon of liquid nicotine can be fatal for a child weighing 11kg. Even liquid nicotine spilt on the skin can become poisonous in a few minutes.
  3. Nicotine is a VERY ADDICTIVE chemical. Nicotine is a naturally toxic substance found in tobacco products. It is also a chemical that makes tobacco products addictive.
  4. Nicotine is a chemical that is EASILY ABSORBED IN THE BODY. It can be absorbed into the body through absorption through the skin, inhalation into the lungs, and absorption through the mucous membranes of your mouth and through the intestines.
  5. Due to the above reasons, we as students of the University of Malaya’s Master of Public Health DO NOT AGREE with the Government’s decision to exclude liquid substances and nicotine gels from the list of controlled substances under the Poisons Act 1952 without any specific controls to prevent the promotion, advertising, sale and use of toxic substances in the market.
  6. This is also a STEP BACKWARDS compared to other neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and 34 other countries that have taken the approach of completely banning vape (Total ban of vape) to protect their people especially the younger generation from nicotine addiction.
  7. We as medical officers and allied health personnel adhere to the “First do no harm” ethics.
  8. We support the advice of the Poison Board experts who unanimously disagree with this action which threatens the lives and safety of all Malaysians, especially children and adolescents who are the nation’s generation.
  9. We also urge that the Bills for the control of smoking and vape products as well as the provisions of Generational End Game (GEG) be tabled and passed as soon as possible.
  10. Lastly, we will continue to carry out our responsibilities as medical practitioners and allied health personnel in ensuring the continued health of all Malaysians.

Nicotine poisoning can occur in two stages: the initial phase and the late phase:

Symptoms of the initial phase after ingestion include:

  1. Increased salivation.
  2. Abdominal pain.
  3. Pale.
  4. Sweating.
  5. Increased blood pressure.
  6. The heart rate increases.
  7. Fast and heavy breathing (hyperpnea).
  8. Complete loss of control of body movement (ataxia), loss of balance, and difficulty walking.
  9. Tremor.
  10. Headache, dizziness.
  11. Muscle wrinkles.
  12. Convulsions.

Symptoms of the late phase include:

  1. Diarrhoea.
  2. Low blood pressure (hypotension) and slow heart rate (bradycardia).
  3. Abnormal heart rhythm.
  4. Surprised.
  5. Commas.
  6. Muscle weakness/paralysis.
  7. Shallow breathing, difficulty breathing, respiratory failure.

Thank you.


Secretariat of the Masters in Public Health Students’ Movement

University of Malaya

7 April 2023

The press release was published in the following media platforms:

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