By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic by BLOOMBERG
Consumer groups and manufacturers are calling for the government to regulate the use of vape e-liquids with nicotine.
In a joint statement yesterday, the Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy (MVIA), Malaysian Vape Chamber of Commerce (MVCC) and Persatuan E-Vaporizers dan Tembakau Alternatif Malaysia (MEVTA) said a regulated industry would provide a clear direction for the industry players in terms of potential investment.
“Regulations will provide the industry with a clear direction, as it has with other countries that have regulated the vape industry.
“It will also help the growth of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the industry.
“With clear regulations and directions, the vape industry has the potential to attract domestic and foreign investments as the local vape industry has a sizable ecosystem comprising manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers and users,” the groups said.
Additionally, the groups said a regulated industry will create new employment opportunities, particularly in the manufacturing of vape devices and e-liquids as well as in the sale and distribution of the products.
“This will positively contribute to the growth of the Malaysian economy, which is much needed in the current climate as the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected multiple industries and workers.
“Regulations will also ensure users have access to safe and regulated products. It will help curb misuse of the product especially in ensuring there is no sale or use by minors,” the groups said.
At present, the vape industry is valued at RM2.27 billion, involving 3,300 businesses with a workforce of more than 15,000. It is estimated that there are more than one million vape users in Malaysia.
The groups also expressed their disagreement with JT International Bhd’s (JTI Malaysia) proposal to increase the taxation rate for the vape to be equal to cigarettes.
The groups viewed that the excise tax rate introduced by the government earlier this year for vape devices and non-nicotine e-liquids should not be increased but instead, the taxation framework should be expanded to include vape e-liquids with nicotine.
“JTI estimated that if the proposal is implemented, the government could earn a tax revenue that surpasses the tax revenue contributed by the cigarette industry.
“The taxation framework should be expanded to include vape e-liquids with nicotine. This should be accompanied by the introduction of regulations for all vape products including setting a standard for the contents in vape e-liquids.
“In the past, the cigarette industry has revealed that an increase in excise tax results in smokers switching to illegal cigarettes. Based on this, JTI’s proposal to increase the vape tax rate only contradicts its previous statements,” they said.
The groups added that if the tax rate imposed on vape products is high, it will not only discourage smokers from switching to less harmful alternatives but will also encourage the smuggling of vape products to evade taxation.
“Equating each milliliter of vape e-liquid with 20 sticks of cigarettes is illogical. These two products are not the same and they cannot be compared equally as suggested by JTI.
“Cigarettes are proven to be harmful to health while vape products have been proven to be less harmful than smoking and help smokers quit smoking.
“What is important is that the direction of the industry should be discussed together, among the government, industry players and users,” the statement reads.
The groups urged the government to organise a consultation session with them before deciding on vape regulations and vape taxation.