Govt loses RM750m from vape regulations delay, says association

by SHAFIQQUL ALIFF / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government is estimated to lose over RM750 million a year in tax revenue due to the Health Ministry’s (MoH) long delay in implementing vape regulations, said Malaysia Retail Electronic Cigarette Association president Datuk Adzwan Ab Manas.

“Due to the postponement and delay in the implementation of vape regulations by the MoH, it is estimated that the government incurs a loss of approximately RM62 million every month from the failure to collect taxes,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Adzwan added that the MoH’s proposal plans to ban the sale of vape along with cigarettes, even though the two products are different.

He said the MoH should be transparent and take into account the potential of vape products in helping smokers quit smoking, instead of categorising vapes and cigarettes as the same product.

“The ban on the sale of vapes to those who have reached adulthood is contrary to the approach taken in developed countries such as the UK and New Zealand, where strategies to reduce the dangers of tobacco are implemented by encouraging the use of vapes to reduce the incidence of smoking.

“The MoH should not be in a hurry to experiment with banning vape sales through the Generation End Game proposal and this move would be a huge blow to local entrepreneurs and workers in the industry,” he added.

Adzwan noted that this will also send the wrong message to domestic and foreign investors, especially from other industries such as sugary drinks and alcohol, which can be charged with the same rules regardless of the rights of adults in making choices.

He said so far, local industry players have not been directly involved in the discussion on the proposal and they only found out about it from media reports.

He likened the ban on vape sales as a declaration of war on the local vape industry, especially for 3,000 local entrepreneurs and 15,000 workers who are currently in a state of uncertainty.

“We are hanging without a rope.

“Although the government has announced a tax framework for vape liquids with nicotine from Jan 1, 2022, this has now been delayed for four months because the MoH still refuses to implement regulations for the industry.

“MoH needs to give priority to the implementation of vape rules first.”

The government had earlier announced that it will implement a tax framework for vape liquids with nicotine starting January 2022 during the presentation of Budget 2022, however, this measure has been set to an unspecified date.

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