MRECA president Datuk Adzwan Ab Manas said that more detailed discussions on the imminent regulations for vaping products are required. “To date, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has had minimal discussions with the local industry. Our main concern is that the Ministry intends to introduce regulations to regulate vape similarly to tobacco products.”

He added that local authorities should differentiate between tobacco products and safer nicotine alternatives. “The government needs to see that tobacco and vape products are different. There is clear evidence from around the world that vape products are significantly less harmful than tobacco products. This is a fact that the government needs to consider, and the laws cannot be the same for vape products and tobacco products.”

Age-specific tobacco ban

Earlier this year, Malaysia’s health minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced a ban on the sales of cigarettes and safer nicotine alternative products to anyone born in 2005 or beyond. The plan was released at the 150th session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board meeting where Jamaluddin said the hope is that the legislation is finalized this year and that it would bring about a “generation endgame to smoking.”

“This is by making it illegal for the sale of tobacco and other smoking products to anyone born after 2005,” said Jamaluddin, “Malaysia feels that it will have a significant impact on preventing and controlling NCDs (non-communicable diseases),” he added.

The proceedings by the PSSC began on the 7th of April 2022 with an initial briefing by the MoH and the director-general of health on the Bill itself. “This Bill is critical as it will determine the fate of thousands of local entrepreneurs and workers in the vape industry. Therefore, we hope that the PSSC will call us to provide views on this matter. We also urge the MoH to conduct more detailed discussions with the local industry players before making final decisions,” said Adzwan.

Malaysia’s PM warned that harsh restrictions will feed the blackmarket

Meanwhile renowned international public health experts have written to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob warning him that such a measure would eventually just create a large black market and just fuel the illicit trade of the products.

In the letter, academics and tobacco harm reduction experts David Abrams, Clive Bates, Ray Niaura and David Sweanor, said that prohibitionist approaches may have unintended consequences. “We hope the government will consider the limitations and likely unintended consequences of prohibition measures. We hope ministers will consider the alternative approach of risk-proportionate regulation based on MPOWER and tobacco harm reduction.”

Read Further: New Straits Times

Much Needed Tobacco Harm Reduction Approaches in Malaysia

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