KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 – British American Tobacco (BAT) Malaysia today requested to be included in deliberations with the government over proposed new legislation to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping products.
The UK tobacco giant, which currently doesn’t market its e-cigarettes and e-liquid products in Malaysia, also opposed banning e-cigarettes and vaping products, saying this will only drive consumers to the black market.
“It is disappointing that up until today, we have not been consulted on these new regulations, especially at a time when effective regulations and policies are required to ensure that vaping products are safe and not sold to the underaged,” said BAT Malaysia managing director Erik Stoel in a statement.
“There needs to be a consultation process together with the industry to ensure robust quality and safety standards requirements are considered such as those set by the British Standards Institution (BSI) on e-cigarettes and e-liquids.”
BAT Malaysia is looking to discuss with regulators to ensure that clear and responsible regulatory frameworks are developed, which take into account all industry stakeholders – including adult consumers, regulators, and the industry.
Supporting the regulation of vape, BAT took the stance that it is against banning the product altogether in Malaysia, citing the impact of the industry to the economy.
“The e-cigarette industry is fast growing in Malaysia and some reports have cited Malaysia to be one of the larger e-cigarettes markets globally as more and more adult smokers are switching to this potentially reduced-risk alternative,” Stoel explained.
“We believe that with the appropriate regulations and controls in place, the industry has the potential to create a new stream of job opportunities, attract foreign direct investments into the country and contribute to the Malaysia economy.”
Stoel said BAT, the world’s second-largest vapour company, has invested billions of dollars into the research and development of its e-cigarettes and vaping products.
“Consistent with this, we do not include oils containing THC or Vitamin E Acetate,” he said, referring to the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that has been linked to several deaths in the United States from a mysterious lung disease associated with vaping.
The Ministry of Health previously mentioned that it will formulate a new law, the Tobacco Act, to supervise the usage of tobacco, vape, electronic cigarettes and shisha. A new legislation to regulate e-cigarettes is expected to be tabled in Parliament at the end of the year or during next year’s sitting.
Nine deaths in the US due to lung diseases related to vaping habits have caused widespread panic among stakeholders on the safety of e-cigarettes.
Despite this, authorities in the UK are assuring vapers that the habit is safer than smoking habits. Following the incidents in the US, UK health experts said that vapers in the UK are safe as all e-cigarette products are regulated for quality and safety by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Last year, the British government launched a new campaign to convince UK smokers that vaping is not as harmful as smoking, as Public Health England said vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco and that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking.