Smoking Products Act Gazetted, But Not Yet Operational

The Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 (Act 852) was gazetted on Feb 2, but it’s not yet in force. Section 1(2) says that the Act comes into operation on a date to be appointed by the Minister. MP Wan Saiful calls for vape regulations.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 – The Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 (Act 852) has been gazetted after receiving royal assent, but it is not yet in force.

Malaysia’s first standalone tobacco and vape control Act was assented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last January 24 before publication in the federal legislation gazette last February 2.

According to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) federal legislation site, Act 852 is “not yet in force”.

Section 1(2) of Act 852 states that the Act comes into operation on a date to be appointed by the minister by notification in the Gazette.

This means that until Act 852 is operationalised, nicotine vape products remain legal for sale to minors aged below 18 years, ever since Dzulkefly’s predecessor, Dr Zaliha Mustafa, gazetted an order nearly a year ago on March 31, 2023, to remove liquid and gel nicotine from the Poisons List of controlled substances under the Poisons Act 1952.

In a recent controversy surrounding a nasal inhaler called “Energy Stick” – which has been associated with vape products (though a vape group has disputed this link) – the Ministry of Health (MOH) sought to take action against “Energy Sticks” not under Act 852 (which is not yet in force), but under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984 for the sale of unregistered “health” products.

A judicial review application by three anti-tobacco and child rights groups against the exemption of liquid nicotine from the Poisons List – the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC), the Malaysian Green Lung Association (MGLA), and Voice of the Children (VoC) – is set for decision at the High Court here on February 28.

It is unclear how long it takes generally for laws with a separate date of operation – as opposed to immediate operation on the date of gazettement – come into force.

For example, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022 was gazetted on October 18, 2022, but several sections of the law only came into force some five months later on March 28, 2023.

Tasek Gelugor MP Wan Saiful Wan Jan, in a letter to the health minister last Monday, urged Dzulkefly to expedite the drafting of vape regulations under Act 852, suggesting that the Health parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) help the government draft these regulations.

“I am ready to be involved if needed,” Wan Saiful said.

Pending the upcoming Dewan Rakyat meeting on February 26, the Health PSSC has yet to announce a new chairman, as its current chairman Dzulkefly is now minister.

Wan Saiful, a Perikatan Nasional lawmaker and Bersatu supreme council member, suggested that the MOH look at vape regulations in other countries that control ingredients, nicotine content, and the concentration of vape liquids.

“In the European Union, each cartridge is only permitted to contain vape liquids of a certain amount, while there are also limits on nicotine concentration in vape liquids,” he wrote.

“Our country does not have such regulations; these regulations must be introduced immediately.”

Although the government inexplicably dropped the tobacco and vape generational end game (GEG) ban from the bill — supposedly on grounds that the prohibition was unconstitutional, outraging MPs and public health experts — the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 still made history as the country’s first comprehensive standalone tobacco and vape control Act.

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