MOH’s Big Plans For Tobacco Control: Plain Packaging For Cigarettes, Standard Packaging For Vape And Restricted Flavours

MOH’s huge plans for tobacco control in proposed regulations under the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 include plain packaging for cigarettes, as well as standard packaging for vape products and vape flavour restrictions.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has revealed huge plans for tobacco control that appear to treat vape and e-cigarettes like conventional smoked tobacco.

Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni told Parliament earlier today during Question Time that the MOH was considering imposing plain packaging on conventional cigarettes.

Plain packaging laws – which have been implemented in 17 countries as of 2020 – standardise the appearance of cigarette packs by prohibiting all design features. The packs must appear in standard colours, while a brand name in a plain font may appear on the pack.

Later during his winding-up speech on the motion of thanks on the royal address, Lukanisman said the MOH was also planning to impose “standard packaging” on e-cigarettes and vape products.

“A few products have been registered with SIRIM that we feel do not fulfil the aspirations of the MOH,” Lukanisman told the Dewan Rakyat.

“We will also consider controls on vape flavours that are increasing in the market that may attract children or people who want to take up vaping.”

The deputy health minister added that the MOH is seeking views from other ministries and the industry on the planned regulations related to vape control under the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 (Act 852). 

“The MOH has prepared draft regulations and orders under the Act that are now at the stage of legal review.”

The prescribing of regulations under Act 852 do not need parliamentary approval, as they can be prescribed solely with the minister’s authority.

In response to Kuala Langat MP Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi’s question on whether the proposed regulations under Act 852 would first be referred to the Health parliamentary special select committee (PSSC), Lukanisman answered in the affirmative.

The deputy health minister also said vaping prevalence has been increasing among women, but did not disclose specific figures.

The Malaysian Vape Chamber of Commerce (MVCC) said that although the MOH held a consultation session with the vape industry earlier this year, details on the regulatory framework for vape products were not provided.

“At that time, we were informed that discussions and research were still being conducted by the MOH. It was quite a surprise when we read the news report stating that regulations have been drafted and were now under evaluation by legal officials,” MVCC secretary-general Ridhwan Rosli said in a statement today.

He was referring to CodeBlue’s report yesterday on Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad’s written parliamentary reply that the proposed regulations under Act 852 were currently under legal review and that they would be presented to Cabinet for approval.

“This matter should be taken seriously as the industry needs to be involved in a transparent discussion regarding the proposed regulations and policies considered by the MOH. So far, we do not know the details of the proposed regulations and whether it will affect the current operations of the industry,” said MVCC.

Ridhwan added that the industry needs to know regulatory details surrounding product content, the type of products allowed to be sold, the maximum volume allowed, the permissible level of nicotine, and the guidelines for packaging and selling.

“All these are details that need to be discussed with the industry because they involve products that are being sold and available in the market. If regulations are developed and they do not consider the impact on current operations, many entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises and workers will be affected,” he claimed.

“The vape industry currently has more than 3,000 local retailers and a workforce of over 30,000 from all walks of life. If this industry is affected due to unreasonable regulations, then there is a possibility that many retailers will be affected and may have to shut down their business resulting in thousands of workers losing their jobs.”

During Question Time in Parliament, Lukanisman made a shocking revelation that tobacco and vape industry influence was behind the government’s decision to decouple the generational end game (GEG) prohibition from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 that was tabled in Parliament last November.

“If we look at our experience when we tabled the GEG, a conflict of views arose due to industry pressure – the industry entered Parliament and the industry met with Members of Parliament, which influenced the decision.”

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