E-cigarette law to affect over 5,000 enterprises

The position by the Cabinet is not to introduce a ban but to regulate the industry, says Mevta

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

MORE than 5,000 enterprises including some 1,800 vape shop owners will be impacted once the government enforces the law to regulate the use and sale of e-cigarettes in the country.

Malaysia E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (Mevta) VP Niezam Talib said a concrete policy on vaping is needed and the group has suggested that more consultations should be held between the government and industry players.

Niezam said the position by the Cabinet is not to introduce a ban but to regulate the industry, which is in line with Mevta’s proposition since 2014.

“We will follow the government’s policy on vaping. But we have seen a double standard though, particularly when compared to combustible cigarettes.

“Over the years, we have not received full information on any decision to be made and there is no answer that we can hold on to,” Niezam told The Malaysian Reserve.

A Reuters report quoting health officials on Tuesday stated that strict regulations are expected to be introduced on the sale and use of e-cigarettes and vaporisers in Malaysia.

The news agency said Malaysia wants to place e-cigarettes and vapes together with tobacco products under a single law that would prohibit promotions and advertising, usage in public areas and use by minors.

The rising number of vaping-related deaths in the US has set the alarm off for governments around the world to consider banning vaping products.

In the US, the death toll from “mysterious” lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use has climbed to at least 15 people.

US President Donald Trump is preparing to introduce a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes, according to reports.

In Britain, a factory worker who died in 2010, was recently believed to be the first death case in the country that has links to vaping.

Niezam said any anti-vaping campaigns should highlight the fact that the cause of the deaths thought to be linked to vaping was due to illicit liquids.

This, he said, adds to the need to regulate the industry from every angle beyond the retail aspect, such as liquid production and device certification.

Meanwhile, the Consumers Association of Penang has urged the government to impose a total ban on e-cigarettes and vaping products in the country as such devices have also been used by minors.

President Mohideen Abdul Kader said in a statement that some 1,000 students in Penang were found to be involved in this habit based on a survey carried out by the association.

Niezam said stricter measures such as age verification for online purchase could be introduced under the regulatory scheme.

As it is, he said Mevta members had been implementing the policy of not allowing minors to walk in and shop.

“If there is a plan to ban vape, the ban should be imposed on cigarettes first and followed by vape. We maintained since the early days that vape is an alternative to cigarettes for those who want to gradually quit smoking.

“Why deter vaping that contain nicotine when we have quit smoking clinic where nicotine is provided. The point is the same. It is just that the smoker wants to do it his way. And if vape is that bad, why vape shops are allowed to be opened in hospitals in the UK?” Niezam added.

In July, two e-cigarette shops have opened in two NHS hospitals in the West Midlands, England.

Run by Ecigwizard, the outlets are opened in Sandwell General Hospital and Birmingham City Hospital, both run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

The move is part of a wider policy to make the hospitals entirely “smoke-free” with cigarette shelters turned into vaping areas, The Telegraph reported.

The ban on smoking is policed by security guards and CCTV cameras, while vaping outside is allowed, as long as it is away from doorways, according to the report.

Niezam said Malaysia’s e-cigarette market is valued at between RM1.5 billion and RM2 billion a year, serving about 1.2 million e-cigarette users.

Excluding the black market, he said Malaysia exports about RM300 million worth of vape liquids, placing the country in second place after the US.