KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 – The vape industry today expressed support for a potential exemption of liquid or gel nicotine from control under the Poisons Act 1952 in the government’s bid to tax e-cigarettes.
Associations representing vape and e-cigarette companies claimed that this would enable regulations to be introduced for the vape industry.
“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,” Adzwan Ab Manas, president of the Malaysia Retail Electronic Cigarette Association (MRECA), said in a statement.
“In developed countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada where vape products are regulated, e-liquids with nicotine are not subject to the Poisons Act. Instead, there is a proper regulatory framework to regulate the products. Therefore, the government is taking the right steps to exempt nicotine for vape products from the Poisons Act.
“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.”
CodeBlue understands that the Poisons Board, an independent body established under the Poisons Act that serves to advise the health minister, held a meeting earlier today to discuss dropping liquid or gel nicotine from the list of controlled substances under the Poisons Act.
Currently, nicotine – except tobacco that is regulated separately under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 under the Food Act 1983 – is classified as a Group C poison under the Poisons Act that can only be dispensed by medical practitioners or pharmacists.
Dewan Perniagaan Vape Malaysia (DPVM) secretary-general Ridhwan Rosli, in a separate statement, claimed that if liquid nicotine is exempted from control under the Poisons Act, vape products can be regulated under “current legislations”.
However, the only current law regulating vape products is the control of liquid nicotine under the Poisons Act that the government may soon eliminate.
“This industry estimated at RM2.49 billion will also get a clear direction after regulations are introduced. In fact, it can attract foreign and domestic investors into this sector, subsequently increasing the value of the industry,” said Ridhwan.
Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy (MVIA) president Rizani Zakaria claimed that vape could be regulated through the existing Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004.
“By improving those regulations, controls can be implemented by prohibiting sales to individuals aged below 18 years. It will also benefit consumers by ensuring that products that are purchased and sold are regulated in terms of their content and safe for use,” he said in a statement.
“In drafting regulations for the vape industry, discussions with the industry must be held to ensure that regulations that will be introduced take into account the needs of the industry and consumers. Industry players are open to discussions with the Health Ministry in this matter.”
The Malaysian Vapers Alliance (MVA), in a separate statement, similarly backed the exemption of nicotine liquids from control under the Poisons Act.
“However, this move must be coupled with immediate amendments to existing laws to enable vape products to be regulated,” MVA president Khairil Azizi Khairuddin said.
“As an association focusing on the safety of vape users, it is paramount to MVA that all vape products are regulated. This ensures that adult vape users are accessing products of known standard and quality, while preventing the products from falling into the hands of the underaged.”
Malaysiakini reported Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa as telling reporters in Parliament earlier today that the government would try to expedite the tabling of the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 – which would be Malaysia’s first ever Act on tobacco and vape control – but that the bill would most likely be tabled only in the next Parliament session.
The tobacco bill also proposes a generational end game (GEG) to ban cigarettes and tobacco and vape products for anyone born from 2007 that proved to be a sticking point with MPs on both sides of the divide from the 14th Parliament. An MP who previously criticised the GEG, Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing, is a member of the Cabinet under the current unity government.
Dr Zaliha reportedly sidestepped questions on whether the tobacco bill would be passed before nicotine is dropped from control under the Poisons Act.
It is unclear what was the decision from the Poisons Board earlier today on removing nicotine from the list of controlled substances under the Poisons Act.
If the Poisons Board decided against it, that means the health minister would be acting against advice from the Poisons Board should she exercise her authority to gazette a regulation to drop liquid nicotine from the Poisons List.
Amending the Poisons List under the Poisons Act can be done by the health minister unilaterally, without needing parliamentary approval.
The Malaysian Medical Association, the Malaysian Pharmacists Society, and the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy have issued statements denouncing the potential move to exclude nicotine from control under the Poisons Act, saying that this would allow vape and e-cigarettes to be sold legally to anyone unregulated, pending the passage of the tobacco control bill in Parliament.