Kuala Lumpur, 25 January 2023 — Today’s statement by the Ministry of Health on the marketing and sale of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and vape products deliberately aimed at children and young people demonstrates the futility and helplessness of health authorities in protecting such vulnerable individuals when laws such as the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill remain unpassed by Parliament.
“To this day, despite being an industry worth an estimated RM 2.3 billion and this country being the largest market in Southeast Asia, the marketing and selling of vape and its products remain unregulated in Malaysia. 4.9% of the population currently vape and this number is rising by the day,” emphasised Azrul Mohd Khalib, Chief Executive of the Galen Centre.
“As a consequence of the lack of legislation or regulation, nothing is able to prevent, restrict or prohibit the manufacturing, marketing and selling of vape products that not only are deliberately intended for young consumers but also contain high nicotine content.”
“16 mg per ml of nicotine is approximately 1.6% nicotine. A cigarette usually contains between 1 and 3 mg of liquid nicotine. In the UK, Europe and even next door in Indonesia, where vape is regulated, the maximum strength permitted is only 20 mg, or 2%. However, in Malaysia, vape liquids in a single disposable with up to 5% nicotine are easily available at RM 10-20. Such high concentrations even in small amounts are toxic for children,” Azrul pointed out.
“Unfortunately, in the absence of the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill, there is currently a massive gap in existing legislation regarding the sale of products containing nicotine, specifically vape. Sales of cheap vape disposables containing high concentrations of liquid nicotine currently cannot be prevented, restricted or banned. Anyone, including children, can buy them.”
“Vape and e-cigarettes are part of the problem of nicotine addiction. Vapers find that though they may have stopped smoking cigarettes, their addiction has transferred to e-cigarettes and vape. Some will be dual users, where they smoke both tobacco and e-cigarettes. Children as young as 10 are becoming newly addicted to nicotine. Where previously their parents would be smoking cigarettes to feed their addiction, these kids are puffing on vape to deal with theirs,” said Azrul.
“This is why the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill proposed to regulate the vape industry in the same way that the tobacco industry is currently regulated, especially regarding advertisements, marketing, promotion and sponsorships. It will help reign in and regulate vape which has gone out of control in this country.”
“To ensure passage of this Bill by this current government, I am proposing that the provisions related to the Generational Endgame in the current version of the Bill be dropped. Those provisions, which were found to be contentious and unpalatable by members of the previous Parliament, will have to be a fight for another day. However, we urgently need the rest of the provisions contained in the Bill, including regulating vape,” Azrul stated.
“None of these issues or problems can be properly addressed and overcome without proper legislation in place. We urgently need the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill to be tabled and passed in Parliament.”