Malaysia should copy New Zealand’s strategy, says vape group


MALAYSIA should emulate New Zealand’s strategy of using vape as a medium for smoking cessation.

Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy president Rizani Zakaria said New Zealand has succeeded in creating an eco-system involving various parties including consumers, industry players, the government and the country’s health agency.

“From their collaborative efforts, New Zealand is expected to succeed in achieving its goal of becoming a smoke-free nation,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Last March, the New Zealand government introduced the “Vape to QuitStrong” campaign aimed at reducing the harm caused by tobacco.

Rizal said their efforts to position vape as an alternative product to substitute traditional cigarettes to encourage its population to quit smoking should be emulated by developing countries worldwide.

“In a presentation at the recent virtual US ECig Summit, it was shared that the approach taken by New Zealand to involve various parties, played an important role in developing vape regulations to help it achieve its smoke-free goals, in line with the national Smokefree 2025 framework.

“In fact, the country’s Ministry of Health has also recognised vape as a tool for smoking cessation since 2017,” he said, adding that the regulations implemented by New Zealand for the vape industry has a “win-win” framework and has been proven to be effective.

“If this model is applied in Malaysia, I am confident we can be like New Zealand,” he said.

The recently held virtual US ECig Summit 2021 brought together industry experts and activists to discuss the future of vape, along with other vape-related topics.

Rizani highlighted that activist Ben Youdan’s presentation where he quoted New Zealand Health Associate Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall on the addition of vape products to the market provides decision-makers with an opportunity to adjust the regulatory setting in the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 towards a more risk-proportionate framework.

The framework would make smoked tobacco much less accessible and less desirable than vaping products and smokeless tobacco.

“Malaysia should emulate New Zealand, and we as industry players would be pleased if the government gave us the opportunity to participate in discussions related to the regulation of the vape industry.

“We are ready to give our thoughts and views on the industry,” Rizani said.

In April this year, The Malaysian Reserve quoted Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s community medicine department expert Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh as saying that vape, filled with different nicotine concentration, offers a different experience compared to a traditional cigarette, and hence perceived as “safer” than smoking.

Nicotine vape devices are under the purview of the Poison Act 1952, hence selling and use must be monitored by trained health personnel.

Under the Poisons Act 1952 (Revised 1989) and Regulations, nicotine is classified as a Category C poison, which means products containing it should only be dispensed by licensed personnel.