The International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) has told Vaping Post that every vape shop in Malaysia seems to have been raided in a coordinated operation by police and regulators from Pharmaceutical Services. The raids, which took place across the country at 3pm Malaysian time, appear to have been carried out without the knowledge of the Ministry of Health. INNCO Secretary General Judy Gibson told us, “They must have been planning this for weeks because they, along with police officers, swooped on very single independent vape shop.”
All nicotine seized
INNCO member MOVE Malaysia says that the raiders confiscated all nicotine-containing liquids, essentially taking the entire stock off the market. They also forced vendors to hand over all receipts for nicotine liquids, and the contact details of their suppliers. MOVE believe that the next step will be to go after the suppliers and confiscate their stocks, too. The organisation has been contacting its members and, so far, has found none who were not raided.
Vaping law in Malaysia is complicated, with responsibility split between three ministries. The Health Ministry monitors the sales of nicotine liquids, the Department of Standards regulates non-nicotine liquids and the Ministry of Domestic Trade monitors and enforces regulations on hardware and non-nicotine liquid. Since late 2016 a flood of new government regulations and state-level bans has decimated Malaysia’s once-thriving vapour products industry, and now it seems the regulators are going after retailers too.
Press blackout likely
MOVE’s director, Azrul Hafriz, believes that Pharmaceutical Services planned and carried out the raids without discussing it with the Health Ministry. MOVE regularly liaise with the ministry and had no indication that this was coming. Unfortunately Pharmaceutical Services is a powerful and well-funded organisation, with links to the pharma industry, and has a lot of freedom to carry out this sort of operation. MOVE also say that the Malaysian press is likely to be under a lot of pressure to support the raids.