Industry players laud move to exempt liquid nicotine from Poisons Act in Putrajaya's bid to regulate vaping

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — Local e-cigarette and vape industry stakeholders have today lauded the federal government’s move to better regulate and exempt nicotine as a controlled substance under the law ahead of new taxation against vape products.

In a statement, the Malaysia Retail Electronic Cigarette Association (MRECA) said the move to exclude liquid nicotine under the Poisons Act would now allow the government to introduce proper regulatory frameworks such as those from developed Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.

“Continuing to subject vape products containing nicotine under the Poisons Act does not help as it is not a suitable framework and does not work for the products. With the exemption, vape liquids containing nicotine can be regulated appropriately and this is where amendments to existing laws such as the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 are required.

“This is important as it will then see controls in place instead of allowing the products to remain unregulated,” MRECA president Datuk Adzwan Ab Manas said in a statement.

Echoing similar sentiments, Malaysian Vape Chambers of Commerce secretary-general Ridhwan Rosli said the industry, said to be worth RM2.49 billion, would now be able to attract foreign and domestic investors with regulation introduced and enforced.

“This is long-awaited news from the entire local vape industry. The move to exempt liquid nicotine is crucial because now there are rules governing the unregulated industry,” he said in a separate statement.

In the same statement, Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy president Rizani Zakaria said the latest move would benefit consumers as sold products and their contents will now be controlled and safe for consumption with regulations in place.

“Vape can be further controlled through existing legislation such as the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004, whose revision would ensure they are not sold to those under the age of 18,” he said.

However, Adzwan and Rizani said the Ministry of Health has not consulted industry players ever since the proposed regulation was announced in Budget 2023 last month.

“We have been in the dark since that announcement with no discussions nor consultation held with the ministry. And the news about the potential exemption on nicotine for vape liquid should be discussed with industry players instead of it being communicated to the health NGOs.

“At the same time, MRECA is of the opinion that the Generational Endgame (GEG) proposal requires further in-depth studies and consultations with all stakeholders especially the industry players,” Adzwan said, referring to the proposal to ban tobacco sales to those born after 2007.

Rizani said industry stakeholders are open to discussions with the ministry on regulations to be imposed since implementation must take into account the interest of consumers and the industry.

Yesterday, two associations representing healthcare professionals in Malaysia voiced their opposition to the government’s move to exempt nicotine as a controlled substance under the law ahead of new taxation against vape products.

In a statement, the Malaysian Medical Association said it had been informed of the possibility of nicotine being removed from the prescription list of controlled substances under the Poisons Act in order for vape-containing nicotine to be sold in the public domain.

Voicing similar concerns, the Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Amrahi Buang also called on the government to reject this proposal and to take action to protect public health and safety, further stating the move to exclude liquid nicotine would “send the wrong message to the public”.

In February, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced that the government will impose an excise duty on liquid or gel products containing nicotine, with half the revenue to be allocated to the Health Ministry.