‘Energy stick’ nasal inhalers are catching on among Singapore’s youths: What are they and what risks do they pose to one’s health?

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SINGAPORE, March 11 — Priced under S$5 (RM17.60) and boasting flavours like “power mint” and “succulent grapes”, a new breed of nasal inhalers, known as energy sticks, that claim to give users an energy boost and relieve nasal congestion is catching on among Singapore’s youths.

Speaking to TODAY, two sellers of energy sticks in Singapore say their clientele are mostly under 25, and some are as young as 12.

Many are also repeat buyers, or those who buy in bulk and sell it on to their schoolmates, they said.

But are they really what they claim to be? These devices were put in the spotlight after two Members of Parliament asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) last week if it was monitoring their use among youths, and whether such products should be treated like vapes and e-cigarettes.

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In Parliament on Monday (March 4), Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Janil Puthucheary said that MOH and the Health Sciences Authority are “closely monitoring” the use of energy sticks, given its marketing on social media and availability of flavours that “target the young”.

He added that the authorities are seeking to ensure that they are not adulterated with harmful ingredients, such as nicotine. The addictive substance is commonly found in vapes and e-cigarettes, as well as smoking cessation products.

Based on online reports, these energy sticks are widespread in Malaysia and have sparked concerns about being used by youths as a gateway to smoking and vaping.

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To find out why these devices are raising eyebrows among experts, TODAY takes a closer look at what they are, their potential health risks, and why experts caution against their rising popularity among youths.

What are energy sticks?

Often referred to as “energy sticks” or “energy bars”, these nasal inhalers can be found on e-commerce platforms like Shopee, Lazada and Carousell for around S$1.19 to S$4.50.

They typically come in compact, bright-coloured packaging and various listings of the inhalers boast flavours such as peppermint, peach and even alcohol-themed names like “mango vod...

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