Ban on e-cigarettes by Malaysian Council is one fatwa health groups would okay

By @vitthernandez on
A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015. Many of the world's junior miners are laying down their picks and shovels to start new ventures ranging from egg exporting to e-cigarette company, as they as try to survive a crash in metals prices by shifting away from exploration. Picture taken on August 7, 2015. Reuters/Mark Blinch

Islamic leaders had in the past issued fatwas that were ridiculous or downright cruel. In December, the Islamic State issued a fatwa to kill newborns with Down syndrome, while in January, a Saudi cleric issued a fatwa on snowmen.

On Wednesday, one fatwa was issued by the National Fatwa Council in Malaysia that would not be ridiculed or despised in media or by the public but would surely get an approval from health groups. After studying its negative health impact, the council banned e-cigarettes and vaping for Muslims in Malaysia.

“From the Sharia aspect, it is detrimental to health … Islam forbids its followers from using things that can harm them directly or indirectly; immediately or gradually that can lead to death, damage the body, result in dangerous illnesses or harm the mind,” explains Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, council chairman, quotes The Telegraph.

Besides being unhealthy, e-cigarettes also waste money, stresses the council which has noticed women and children showing interest in vaping. By using a fatwa, the council hopes to stop “an unhealthy culture from spreading to future generations.”

Husin points out that other Islamic nations such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had issued fatwas on e-cigarettes and vaping.

Because the religious edict would surely damage their finances, the Malaysian E-Vaperisers ad Tobacco Alternative Association (MEVTA) asked the council to reconsider the fatwa. Rizani Zakaria, president of MEVTA, insists that vaping is different from cigarette smoking and shisha, which he admits are harmful or haram.

“I’m not saying vaping is a very good thing,” he concedes, “but it certainly has a more significant impact on smokers wanting to quit compared with other alternatives such as chewing gum and patches,” quotes Rakyat Post. To defend their business, Zakaria out that “Even in Islam, we must take into account what is less detrimental.”

He adds that in Malaysia, there is no research that concludes vaping is harmful to health and is as bad as cigarettes. There may be no such study in the Southeast Asian country, but a study by researchers at John Hopkins University School of Medicine says that the nicotine inside e-cigarettes is addictive. The nicotine is dangerous for people with heart ailments and could damage arteries of people over time, warns WebMD.

Dr M. Brad Drummond, assistant professor of medicine at the university, acknowledges that e-cigarettes could be less harmful than cigarettes, but he adds, “We still don’t know enough about their long-term risks or the effects of secondhand exposure.”

However, a two-year study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that eight employees of the Glister-Mary lee popcorn plant in Missouri developed bronchiolitis obliterans, more popularly known as popcorn lungs. It established a link between the ailment and inhaling diacetyl vapors. Diacetyl is used by some e-liquid vendors as flavoring.

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