MCTC Opposes Vape Tax, Wants Total E-Cigarette Ban

The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) and its partner NGOs are also calling for taxation on tobacco and tobacco products to be raised to at least 70 per cent.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) and its partner non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are opposed to the government’s proposal to tax vape liquids containing nicotine in a move to regulate instead of ban e-cigarettes.

MCTC president Prof Dr Lekhraj Rampal, in a statement on Saturday, said the group rejects the idea of generating revenue from any form of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS), and is instead calling for an immediate total ban of vape and e-cigarettes in the country.

“Vaping products do not help smokers to quit,” Dr Lekhraj said.

MCTC cited the longitudinal PATH study by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), quoted by cancer prevention professor John Pierce from UC San Diego who reportedly said the population study found no evidence that e-cigarettes were helping smokers quit, and that evidence on teens vaping was “troubling”.

“We urge the government not to forget about the promises made to aid smokers in their battle to quit smoking. All these ‘noble’ suggestions to increase government revenue should also strictly commit to ensuring the earmarking of these funds to be obtained to finance quit-smoking initiatives at multiple levels in the public and private sectors, especially at the primary care level. 

“Ensuring and providing such services becomes a crucial need at these times, especially due to the additional risks of Covid-19 for smokers and users of tobacco products,” Dr Lekhraj said.

MCTC also maintained that although e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, these products are “harmful to health and undoubtedly unsafe”.

The FDA’s PATH study found that exclusive e-cigarette users were exposed to known toxicants, but at lower levels than cigarette smokers.

Apart from a complete ban of vapes and e-cigarettes, MCTC and its partner NGOs are also calling for the tabling of the Tobacco Control Bill to be expedited, increasing the penalty for offences related to illicit trade in tobacco and tobacco products, as well as raising the taxation on tobacco and tobacco products to at least 70 per cent of the retail price, in accordance with recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank.

The group is also calling for an increase in the age limit for the sale and purchase of tobacco products from below the age of 18 to below 21 years, a ban on online sales and delivery services of tobacco products, and the enforcement of no smoking at all workplace environments.

Other suggested measures include expediting the implementation of licensing of tobacco and tobacco products that have been outstanding since 2011 and ratifying the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“We as health professionals and civil society members urge all, especially MPs, state assemblies, public officials, to provide leadership in the promotion of a healthy lifestyle to save lives as tobacco kills people and the cost to society is beyond the tax collected,” Dr Lekhraj said.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, during the tabling of Budget 2022 in Parliament last Friday, announced the government’s plan to introduce excise duty on liquid or gel products containing nicotine used for electronic cigarettes and vapes.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin recently told WHO that Malaysia will soon regulate e-cigarettes or ENDS so that they do not become accessible to schoolchildren.

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