Last April, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, had announced a new bill whilst pointing out that presently tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes are regulated under different directives. Cigarettes are regulated by the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 under the Food Act 1983, while e-cigarette liquid containing nicotine, falls under the Poisons Act 1952. “The new bill will underline all regulations and controls on e-cigarettes and vapes, including the sales guidelines,” he said in the report.
Dr Dzulkefly had said that the aim was to submit the new act to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) for review by the end of the year. However, two months ago, the ministry had said that the events which took place in the US, had increased the urgency to review the policies, and the final draft of the Act has already been completed and submitted for a final review .
Despite this, the latest update by Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad is that a total ban is now being considered. “A detailed study is required to review the need for enforcing a total ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes and vapes,” he said, adding that the ministry had set up a committee to look into the matter.
Is this ban a smart move?
Currently, an approximate 25% of Malaysia’s population smokes, and this rate can be partly attributed to the lack of harm reduction/smoking cessation initiatives, by local lawmakers. Earlier this year, shadow finance minister and former minister of youth and sports Khairy Jamaluddin, had expressed his opinion about the use of e-cigarettes as harm reduction tools. “I’m more for harm reduction, which means you try to minimise the negative effects. It’s the idea that certain addictions can be re-routed towards less-harmful, non-lethal behaviour,” said Jamaluddin.
Indonesia is considering a similar measure
Meanwhile, the health ministry of Indonesia, the world’s second biggest tobacco market after China, is similarly considering a bill that would implement a total ban on vaping. Anung Sugihantono, the Health Ministry’s director general of disease control and prevention, said that the government is revising current vaping regulations. “The ministry’s stance is consistent: we want to ban, not limit, vaping and e-cigarettes.”
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