JOHOR BARU: The crackdown on vape sellers here has begun, starting with those selling nicotine-laced liquids, ahead of the Jan 1 ban on vapes in the state.
Police, aided by state and federal agencies, raided three outlets – two in Taman Century and one in Larkin – seizing RM380,385 worth of products.
Nicotine is listed in the Poisons Act and products containing it can only be sold by pharmacists.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd said the 6,924 bottles of vape liquids that were seized were sent for analysis.
About 190 vaping devices and accessories were part of the haul during the Dec 15 raid.
Four men, aged between 23 and 70, manning the outlets were arrested and released after having their statements recorded.
“We are waiting for the chemist to confirm that the liquids contain nicotine before taking further action against them,” Comm Wan Ahmad Najmuddin told reporters yesterday.
He said the men also allegedly committed other offences, such as operating a business without a licence, not displaying prices and putting up illegal advertisements.
“This is our first raid on vape sellers and it will definitely not be the last,” Comm Wan Ahmad Najmuddin said.
“I have directed the Narcotics Department chief to carry out operations statewide,” he added.
The raiding party included personnel from the Health Ministry’s pharmacy unit; Johor Baru City Council; Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry; Customs Department; Companies Commission Malaysia; and National Anti-Drugs Agency.
Comm Wan Ahmad Najmuddin criticised Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs Alliance of Malaysia (Ikhlas) president Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah for being ignorant of the law.
He said such ignorance did not make it all right to stock or sell products containing prohibited substances such as nicotine.
It was reported that Mohd Ridzuan, representing about 50 vape sellers in Johor, threatened to take legal action against the state government and its agencies over the raid.
Comm Wan Ahmad Najmuddin replied that police were enforcing a federal law “so we have nothing to fear”.
“If Ikhlas still wants to sue over the matter, it is up to them,” he said.
Johor was the first state to ban vaping and the sale of vape products, citing concern for the people’s health.
Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar ordered vape businesses to wind up before the ban came into effect.
Kelantan was the next state while the Terengganu and Selangor governments were reportedly considering a ban.
Several vape sellers in these states said they planned to take the business underground, claiming that they had invested too much to just “get up and leave”.
Studies have so far been unable to conclude whether vaping is, or is not, bad for health.
Trader: Ban vaping and we will go underground