Business as usual for vape dealers amid pending regulation
Vape Industry

Mevta estimates that there are around 4,000 to 5,000 vape traders in the country last year

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

Vape dealers are still operating as usual six months after the government formed a committee to look into regulating the vape industry.

Malaysia E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (Mevta) president Rizani Zakaria said local vape entrepreneurs continue to conduct business as usual, selling their products to local consumers or exporting it to the overseas market.

“As we are waiting for the new law, dealers and entrepreneurs are still running their business as usual, hoping that the licensing issue is resolved as soon as possible.”

“It (the law) is to avoid any doubt among the public on the sales of vape, especially after the government’s decision to allow it to be sold in Malaysia, except Johor,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in a recent text message reply.

Mevta estimates that there were around 4,000 to 5,000 vape traders in the country last year, which was similar to the amount in 2016.

Last September, TMR reported the government had formed a working committee to regulate the once-boom- ing vaping industry, which included representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) and vaping industry groups.

The committee, formed last July, was expected to issue recommendations on the industry but Mevta said there has been no update on the matter.

The vaping industry, once lucrative, was plagued with various issues such as legality and public acceptance.

According to industry figures, in October 2016 alone, there were about 800,000 in the country.

However at the beginning of 2017, the numbers drastically dropped to 200,000.

Rizani said with the Malaysians e-liquid demand growing and the regulations to be put in place, Mevta is confident that the industry is slowly making a comeback.

Meanwhile, Vape Empire Sdn Bhd CEO Zac Oh said although there is no concrete law at the moment, the e-cigarette and vape-product distributors rely on the guidelines by KPDNKK issued last year to ensure smooth business operation.

“KPDNKK had invited all vape players for a meeting and shared the progress done by the government and guidelines, while the law is being set up, especially on e-liquid packaging and other stuff.

“We have been abiding by those guidelines in running our business here,” Oh said.

According to Oh, some of the directives include declaring the details of the liquid ingredients, original manufacturer’s details and information on volume of liquid.

“As of now there is no announcement by KPDNKK. There are rumours that it (regulation) will only be finalised in 2019.

“As for now we know they are only drafting the whole law and it still needs time to be tabled in the Parliament for approval,” Oh added.

As the local market slowly stabilised, Oh said there have been some challenges in exporting vape pro- ducts, especially to the US.

“We are not only competing with Malaysian companies but also with the US and China manufacturers, especially from the US, as they might have felt the pinch of Malaysian companies grabbing their market share.

“Many of them have reduced their price to compete with Malaysian pricing which somehow affects local players,” he explained.

While vape players are looking forward for the industry’s revival, the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) remains adamant that vaping should be banned.

Fomca’s SmokeFreeMY initiative co-ordinator Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah told TMR that Fomca is of the view that no healthcare professional should get involved in any way towards commercialisation of a device that contradicts public health policy.

“Simply no one should inhale anything other than clean air. Medically it is a harmful activity. We have made our position and it is the responsibility of policymakers and public to decide,” he said, claiming that public health professionals are also not keen in the legalisation of vape.