Foolish Doc’s Letter Fail

Posted 18th November 2020 by Dave Cross
Dr Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed is a man of many titles. He is the President of Malaysia Association of Adolescent Health, the Principal of the Malaysian Academy of Pharmacy, and the Dean of the Centre for Foundation Studies. Readers of his anti-vape letter might give him another title, but one he would be less proud of.

In a puff-piece interview [link], Mohamad Haniki claimed: “I’m really passionate about learning, even when at this juncture, they ask, ‘Why are you still learning?’ I tell them that knowledge is limitless, and I hope there will always be opportunities for me to share my knowledge and skills with other fellow pharmacists.

In his letter to The New Straits Times, the doctor attacks vaping, tobacco harm reduction, and repeats a stack of lies and seems not to have learnt anything about nicotine since 2001. Defying logic, evidence, and common-sense, Mohamad Haniki argues that all alternative, reduced-harm products should be banned outright.

He was responding to a call for a better-informed approach to tobacco control that acknowledged the potential for novel nicotine products [link]. Mohamad Haniki accuses the author of cherry-picking his information, which is a bit rich considering what follows.

Firstly he carps about the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s funding, ignoring the information it produces. Echo chambers operate better when dissenting voices are tuned out.

Relying on one Bloomberg-funded World Health Organization (while ignoring its supposed support of harm reduction), the doctor continues to declare: “all forms of tobacco are harmful, including the so-called alternative products”.

The Electronic Cigarette Company

About vaping, he says:

  • It is “harmful to health
  • Vape devices are “undoubtedly unsafe
  • And, “can be manipulated by the user, including by adding illicit substances

His statements are in direct conflict with the informed positions taken by Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Nursing, the British Lung Foundation, the British Heart Foundation, the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Cancer Research UK, and Action on Smoking and Health.

Mohamad Haniki throws out some figures on teen vaping in Malaysia but he doesn’t reference them. One thing that has been learnt from the use of American data is that analysts willingly conflate ever-use with daily vaping, and that the actual figure of non-smoking teens taking up vaping is grossly overblown.

Then the mask slips as the anti-tobacco crusader writes: “Do we want to allow yet another menace … to lure our adolescents into becoming lifelong nicotine addicts?” Nicotine, as pointed out by Professor John Britton, is a benign substance with all the threat posed by a cup of coffee.

The puritan continues: “Nicotine is a classified poison, but one of the tobacco companies which sponsored the conference Soosai attended even called for the Malaysian Poisons Act to be "updated" so that e-cigarettes can be more accessible. The fact is, what was classified a poison previously, remains a poison and should be treated as such.”

Vape Club

The use of the emotive term “poison” ignores what has been known for over 500 years; Swiss chemist Paracelsus articulated a basic principle of toxicology: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”

Rather than look to the likes of world-leading United Kingdom or Sweden, Mohamad Haniki believes Malaysia should emulate the approaches taken in Singapore and Thailand, “both countries have banned e-cigarettes and NTPs as part of their comprehensive programme.”

He concludes: “Our adolescents must be protected from the predatory tobacco and nicotine industry, as well as their allies. Banning these so-called alternative tobacco products is the best way forward.”

You can lead a doctor to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.


  • Ban alternative tobacco products to save lives, Dr Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed – [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker