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    Features — Interesting News

    Is Malaysia still a vaping wonderland?

    Is Malaysia still a vaping wonderland?

    By YEE YANG

    Ever since breaking upon the scene a few years back, vaping has never been far from the pages of Malaysia’s most popular newspapers. Some of the things written have been positive, while some others have been less so.

    Some of the more positive vape-related news have involved the economic opportunities made possible for local entrepreneurs, with some media outlets even going as far as to call Malaysia "Asia's vaping wonderland". Other news have featured the health benefits of switching from smoking to vaping. 

    On the flip side, there have also been many reports of vaping having an adverse effects on one’s health. (How could it be worse than smoking, we wonder?)

    Vaping has also been suggested to be no better than smoking, as the vapour particles could potentially have harmful effects on the lungs with extended use.

    Amidst potential government regulation and statements from the Fatwa Council, Malaysians are still vaping on.

    Here, we highlight some of the latest news available on vaping in Malaysia. 

    Quit smoking! Start vaping!

    Recent studies have shown that going cold turkey as a means of quitting could actually be dangerous to one’s health due to the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

    At the same time, it reports that smokers who use viable nicotine replacements are more successful in their attempts to quit.

    Here's where vaping comes in: Besides providing the nicotine required to prevent withdrawal symptoms, vaping is also able to accurately replicate the action of smoking with the inhale/exhale of vapour.

    Hence, as a medium to quit smoking, vaping has been shown to be an extremely viable alternative.

    Don’t worry, it’s not illegal!

    Recently, the Malaysian government has also taken steps to regulate the vape industry. Three separate government industries (KPDNKK, MOH, and MOSTI) have been tasked with drawing up the necessary regulations to ensure that the production, sale, and use of vape-related products is legal.

    The Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism KPDNKK will be responsible for regulating the safety standards for vape devices, and also enforcing the marking and labelling of vape related products.

    This will ensure that all vapers out there can be assured that the devices used, or the juices being vaped comply with standards set by the ministry.

    The Ministry of Health (MOH) will be working to ensure that the sale of e-liquids containing nicotine be made possible only through the proper channels. 

    They will also be regulating the sale, promotion, and use of health related labels for vape juices, along with ensuring that underaged consumers will be restricted from vaping. This is good news for vapers who are concerned about the origins of their vape juices.

    Lastly, the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) will be responsible for developing standards for e-cigarette batteries and devices, along with the packaging of nicotine-free vape juices.

    Regulation is good news for all vapers

    After the Sultan of Johor implemented a ban on the sale of all vape-related products in the state of Johor last year, there was a nervous expectation in the vape community that a total ban on vaping was on the cards.

    With a total of five states - Penang, Kedah, Johor, Kelantan, and Terengganu - imposing a ban on vape, those were indeed bleak times.

    Thankfully, a disaster has been averted with the government's decision to regulate the industry, and industry players are hoping for prompt action from the authorities to clarify the way forward.

    Hopefully, the ban on vape in these five states will also be lifted with the imminent regulation of vape leading the way.

    What else have you heard in the news lately? Drop us a line and let us know!

    Vaping: What’s it like in the Caucasus?

    Vaping: What’s it like in the Caucasus?

    Pix and Words by PASHMINA BINWANI

    Smack right in the middle of Asia and Europe, the Caucasus region is a relatively new home to a steadily growing vape culture.

    Unknown to many, and overlooked by others, Tblisi, Georgia, the largest capital in the Caucasus region has seen much change since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the new generation has played a role in the changing vape scene.

    If you think about it, though, it’s no surprise to see a thriving vape scene in this part of the world.

    The influences run large across the border lines. Bounded on the north by Russia, on the south by Turkey and Armenia and on the east by Azerbajian, it is interesting to note the various influences and rituals that Georgia has grown to adopt.

    The demand for flavours, quality and affordability, on top of its strategic location, makes the vape culture in Georgia truly memorable. There’s definitely a sharp increase in the vaping market as evidenced by the growing number of vape shops and lounges across the country, which are filled with fruity flavours and various imports from Germany and Russia.

    According to a study conducted in 2012, about 30 per cent of the country smoked  but one would assume that number might have decreased. In the last few years, online stores, shopping mall boutiques and shops dedicated to selling and distributing e-cigarettes, e-liquids and other related accessories have mushroomed across the country.

    Discovering a new world

    Paata Tsivadze, who owns Corsair World Georgia says that he has seen the vape culture grow in two years.

    “A friend in Russia introduced me to the vape lifestyle and I saw the potential and definitely a way out from the cigarette lifestyle, so I thought why not,” said Tsivadze.

    “Not only that, the subculture and growing trend amongst the community of Georgians and other European counterparts clearly shows that vaping is here to stay.”

    The place operates both as a lounge and a shop with various vape experts as staff to help each individual make their vape journey a pleasant one. Whether it is vaping for the first time or sharing vape tips, each new customer is welcomed and educated on the benefits and advantages of vaping.

    “The vape lounges and comfortable vibes are what leads us to be a community of sorts. For a newbie vape user who has zero understanding in vaping, we give vape how-to’s and educate them and emphasise to them that it is not just a hobby but a health choice,” said Tsivadze.

    “In just two years, we will have 10 or 12 shops and see growth every six months. I am certainly confident of the e-cigarette and vape industry. But looking back, it is great to note that when I first opened in 2014, we sold 50,000 e-liquids. That’s something!” said Tsivadze.

    A lifestyle to learn about

    Tsivadze’s staff are young smokers in their early 20’s who have grown to know the ins and outs of vaping and are accustomed to the usual vape practices like cloud chasing, among others. They are even able to perform vape tricks like the Tornado.

    (The Tornado involves the vape user creating a pool of smoke and using his finger to create spirals that form mini tornadoes.)

    “At 7pm on Friday, we have a vape gathering where many of us come together to hang out at the lounge area. Tricks, cool stuff, updates and the desire to learn more about the vape lifestyle are discussed here. It’s a friendly atmosphere,” said Iza, who works at Corsair World Georgia.

    “We talk endlessly about our favourite vape flavours. From women to men, there is no gender bias. We love our flavours and with the help of communities like the Georgian Vapers Federation group on Facebook, it is easy,” added Iza.

    A frequent vape user, Iza said she used to spend US$4 in a day when she was smoking cigarettes, but now it is US$4 a week and it feels more calming and easy on the nose.

    Like your local coffee shop

    At about noon, customers walk into the vape shop during their work break and take a seat at the lounge area. Some customers go straight to selecting their favourite e-liquids, while others ask for recommendations with the aim of keeping themselves updated on the latest vape flavours.

    It’s almost like a café where you order your customised or favourite drink and get the latest scoop on what’s happening.

    To promote a cigarette-free lifestyle, the shop has a poster indicating the thousands of chemicals one can find in a cigarette. Quirky show pieces displaying a big no-no to the cigarette lifestyle are also part of the unique design pieces in the vape shop at Georgia.

    “Wherever I go, I try to spread the knowledge of vaping. I even give out free vape devices for new users to try it out. I really want to ensure they know that there are alternatives out there to cigarette smoking. Especially for families or fathers who have children, like myself, it makes a marked difference,” said Tsivadze.

    While the industry needs to be regulated, a set of standards and universal guidelines are in the works and Georgia, at the balcony of Europe, is optimistic about the future of the e-cigarette industry. Countless studies have shown that vaping is 95 per cent safer than smoking.

    As the owner of Corsair World Georgia, Tsivadze is confident that as long as it is right and has served as an innovative way to live a balanced life, there is no reason to say no to vaping. After all, it’s good to have a choice and an alternative in the market for people to make the right call of action.

    To a new year and new beginnings, we have heard about the up and coming vape lifestyle in the Caucasus, tell us what is it like in your part of the world.

    The Healthier Alternative to Smoking

    The Healthier Alternative to Smoking

    The Healthier Alternative to Smoking

    Smoking is one of the most common addictions suffered by people all over the world. It is the culprit responsible for many respiratory diseases and is a top risk factor for other illnesses leading to morbidity and mortality. What makes it so addicting? The secret lies in its nicotine content.

    Since its discovery, researchers have worked on finding evidence to prove the link between nicotine use and certain diseases. These studies have proven one major thing: in the midst of the thousands of chemicals found in tobacco, they found nicotine as the main substance that is responsible for the cravings felt by smokers.

     

    What is nicotine? Where does it occur naturally?

    Nicotine, found organically in the nightshade plant family (Nicotiana tabacum, Asclepias syriaca, Duboisia hopwoodii, and Nicotiana rustica), is a potent stimulant drug and a parasympathomimetic alkaloid.

    The plant was first discovered in 6000 B.C. in the Americas. People started to cultivate it and use its leaves for either chewing or smoking. Even back then, the use of tobacco was very controversial. People actually believed the plant had medicinal uses. In fact, during the Middle Ages, it was used against the ravages of the bubonic plague. However, around the 1600s, people began speculating a connection between using tobacco products and cancer.

     

    How does nicotine affect the human body?

    Science has shown us that nicotine affects the brain in several ways. First of all, nicotine stimulates “reward pathways” – these make up the system in the brain which is responsible for pleasure. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is the key chemical that mediates the urge to use drugs. According to research, nicotine increases dopamine levels in these pathways. Most tobacco users will experience long-term changes in the brain because of regular nicotine use, ultimately leading to addiction.

    Nicotine also has pharmacokinetic properties. These increase the possibility for abuse. When you smoke a cigarette, there is a rapid release of dopamine into the nervous system. Within ten seconds of inhalation, the levels of the substance will peak. The immediate (acute) effects will disperse almost instantly, though, as well as the feelings of pleasure (reward) – this is why smokers feel the urge to continue dosing themselves with more, in order to maintain the pleasurable effects of the drug.

     

    Why do addictions form?

    Regular smokers keep on using tobacco because of nicotine addiction. Addiction is defined as a compulsive substance-seeking habit, often accompanied by abuse of the said substance. Most times, addicts will keep giving in to these urges despite facing detrimental side effects or health consequences. Many smokers recognize the harm in using tobacco – some even express wanting to stop the habit, or at least limit it. However, over 85% of these people are unsuccessful in their efforts, usually relapsing in a week’s time or so.

     

    Current medical applications of nicotine

    • The main therapeutic application of nicotine is in the treatment of nicotine dependence (addiction). To ultimately end smoking and the negative effects it has to the body, a person is given controlled nicotine levels in the form of dermal patches, gums, electronic cigarettes (vaping), or nasal sprays. This will safely wean the patient off of the dependence.

    Even though the use of e-cigarettes has only been granted medical license in a small number of jurisdictions, many find vaping less harmful than smoking. Vaping, along with the other aforementioned therapies, has shown to increase quitting success rates to as much as 50-70%.

    • Other clinical uses of nicotine include performance enhancement. Nicotine is used to enhance cognition, focus, and alertness. Studies have concluded that nicotine had positive effects on fine motor abilities including: episodic and working memory, orientation, attention, and alertness.  In 2015, a review reported that certain nicotinic receptors, once activated, help improve attention – although these same receptors are the ones leading to addiction.

     

    Clinical trials exploring nicotine use

    Aside from the medical applications mentioned above, clinical trials and studies to explore more of nicotine’s possible uses are continuously underway.

    • Acute intake of nicotine activates nicotine receptors, but if the intake is in low doses and for long periods of time, it can desensitize these receptors. The outcome is an antidepressant effect. Further studies show that patches with low dose of nicotine have been effective in treating major depressive disorders, especially with patients who don’t smoke. Still, it isn’t considered (or recommended) as major treatment for these cases because it poses negative overall effects to health.
    • Smoking has been associated with increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but ironically, some research hypothesizes that nicotine can possibly prevent and treat the disease.
    • Researchers tapped into “cotinine” – nicotine’s principal metabolite – and suggest that this metabolite is the primary mediator of nicotine’s psychoactive effects.
    • In clinical studies performed on animals, there is some potential that nicotine can benefit Parkinson’s disease sufferers.

     

    Nicotine in cigarettes VS nicotine in vape

    On average, a cigarette stick contains about 2 milligrams of nicotine. This amount will produce stimulant effects (which are the main factors leading to addiction). In higher amounts (50 to 100 milligrams), adverse effects may take place.

    It can be difficult to compare nicotine absorption between vaping and smoking actual tobacco. In a cigarette, not all of the nicotine is absorbed by the body. On the other hand, e-liquids (used for vaping) are measured in milligrams per millilitres (mg/ml). In theory, you can find out how much e-liquid you are vaping, although the inconsistencies between e-cigarette brands and devices are a major hindrance. For instance, using atomizers with only 3 mg/ml can give the same effects if you are using a cartomizer or starter kit with 12 mg/ml.

    Unlike tobacco, vaping does not have a set “dosage”. It would take advanced chemistry and biology experts to be able to determine how many puffs would equate to one cigarette stick. Again, the differences between devices should be considered, too. Additionally, vapers often vape in significantly smaller amounts than smokers would with cigarettes. This is why many former smokers consider vaping less harmful than smoking.

    Here is a rundown of the different nicotine amounts that you can choose from if you are thinking of vaping.

    • 12 to 18 mg/ml – this recommended for heavy smokers. It is common for first-timers to get more nicotine than expected, which can create an initially unsettling feeling. Also, the “buzz” or “high” that cigarette smokers are used to might be sensationally different compared to that from vaping. In order to track how much you have vaped, a lot of devices now have “puff counters” or other similar features.
    • 6 mg/ml – this is a good option for formerly light to moderate cigarette smokers. More often, former smokers who find vaping less harmful than smoking use this nicotine strength. Those who are switching from nicotine gums or patches to vaping also prefer this strength.
    • 3 mg/ml – people who vape with this amount of nicotine only really vape for the habit and feeling of vaping, simply for the sake of it. The nicotine content is already too low to create significant buzz.
    • Zero nicotine content – this the perfect option for anyone who deliberately chooses to vape without the effects of nicotine.

    Without question, getting nicotine from smoking tobacco is dangerous. The long list of negative health effects it causes is enough reason to think of taking care of one’s body and quitting smoking altogether. This is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are choices available for former smokers to make the transition more easily. Experts consider vaping less harmful than smoking, even recommending it as a rehabilitation tool for smokers and tobacco addicts. 

     

     

    4 Ways Pokémon Go and Vaping Are Similar

    4 Ways Pokémon Go and Vaping Are Similar

    You must be living under a rock if you have never heard of Pokémon Go.

    This game has overtaken many aspects of people’s lives. You can’t quite be out and about without stumbling upon a person trying to catch the Weedle (that somehow resides in the middle of a metropolis).

    Pokémon Go and vaping are both subjects of outrageous news stories (positive and negative) on radio, television and the internet.

    As I was wandering around and vaping trying to hatch the Pokémon eggs that I’ve collected in a town centre nearby Vape Club’s office, I stumbled upon a Nidoking (with a CP of 678 - yay!).

    This got me thinking about all the things Pokémon Go and vaping have in common.

    Here’s the list of similarities that I have observed:-

    You feel the need to ‘Catch em’ all’

    Pokémon Go trainers all have the need to catch em’ all. Once you capture one pokémon, you see another one with cooler abilities and higher combat power, so you set off on your hunt for that new pokémon.

    Sometimes, you may even buy in-game items (Lure Module and Lucky Egg) for an epic power levelling spree. The next thing you know your wallet is exactly a thousand dollars emptier - lulz.

    Like all serious Pokémon Go trainers, vapers also have the intrinsic need to try and discover interesting e-juice flavours around the world.

    Sometimes you have to fork out a lot of money to get the specific brand of e-juice that you want. Poof! Your bank account figure reduces by $1,000.

    After a few weeks, your best friend shows up to your doorstep with the best e-liquid from Malaysia.

    You then quickly mortgage your house and sell the juices that you’ve lost interest in. You order more e-liquids from Vape Club International because that’s where your buddy got his juices.

    Poof! Your bank account figure reduces again.

    gotta catch 'em all

    There are shit tons of haters

    You get weird looks from the public when you wander around a seemingly empty complex in hopes of finding rare pokémons. You don’t give a rat’s ass.

    You see someone else aimlessly walking in a straight line back and forth in a neighbourhood park. He notices you, you smile back and give a look of approval - practice the look below.

    You both catch the Gyarados wandering the area and you both go home happy. Before you know it, the local security has called the cops on you for suspicious behaviour because they have no fucking idea what you guys were doing at such a late hour.

    Like dedicated pokémon trainers who are vastly misunderstood, vapers also get funny looks from bystanders.

    Based on my observation, vapers are perceived as mad men and/or drug addicts based on the looks that I get when I’m enjoying my vape in public. (What the f*ck is going on with this world?)

    Thankfully, we still get the same look of approval above when bumping into fellow vaping enthusiasts.

    There are etiquette rules to follow

    Just as pokémon trainers should never ever drive or trespass for the purpose of catching pokémons. Vapers need to follow rules as well.

    Awesome vapers and pokémon trainers always maintain stellar etiquette because they know that’s what needs to be done to garner positive public perception.

    Here is an infographic (link here) that we’ve created to ensure vapers comply with the general etiquette involved.

    People who are not involved at all won’t get why we play Pokémon Go or vape. It’s only normal to be hated by people who have never experienced any of these things, there’s a saying that humans are most afraid of the unknown.

    There are a lot of vape haters out there, but if you’re a smoker and you’ve tried vaping, only then you will comprehend why vapers are so fiercely defensive and why every one of them turn into activists.

    You Need A Power-bank

    One of the things I hate the most is lugging a heavy piece of hardware around for emergencies. Unfortunately for me, I vape and play Pokémon Go.

    I now carry a portable charger and a power bank everywhere I go because Pokémon Go drains a lot of your phone battery -- due to the need for GPS functionality.

    A standard iPhone SE like mine would only last about 4-5 hours if I was going full-on Pokémon Go. I also exclusively vape on a dual coil dripper at about 0.15ohms so vaping really kills my batteries.

    That’s it people! Hope you enjoyed the article.

    If you’ll excuse me, I have a Bulbasaur that needs my attention.

    Vaping Reduces Harm to Health

    Vaping Reduces Harm to Health

    While not harmless, vaping reduces harm to the health of those who make the switch from cigarettes In this new section – Vape News Roundup – VapeClubMY highlights happenings in the world of vape. Vaping Is About Reducing Harm, Not Being Harmless [Vice Motherboard, 27/4/16] While vaping has its opponents, there are some groups that […]

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