IF Malaysia regulates e-cigs as a pharmaceutical product, the industry here could face challenges similar to our neighbour Down Under.
In Australia, states are extending tobacco control laws to include e-cigs, Sydney-based tobacco treatment specialist Dr Colin Mendelsohn shares.
In addition to the nicotine restriction, they want more restrictions on sales to minors and through vending machines, advertising, displays, and use in smoke-free areas and in cars with children, he says.
Consumers have been fined for vaping in public places and one business even went bankrupt for selling e-cigs, he relates.
Nicotine for non-therapeutic purposes like recreational vaping, is categorised as a “dangerous poison”. Possession, sale and use of it is illegal. But if used for therapeutic purposes to quit smoking, its sale is allowed by prescription.
Although users can import nicotine or get it from a pharmacist legally, most buy online and from the black market. Many doctors refuse to write prescriptions so people either keep smoking or they vape illegally, he says.
“We’re trying to push for low concentrations of nicotine to be sold without prescription. The regulators can keep nicotine in the ‘dangerous poison’ category but let us have tiny amounts for vaping as a tobacco substitute.”
He says there are also attempts to get ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) approved for therapeutic purposes so that doctors can prescribe e-cigs to smokers. The Nicotine Alliance, a new advocacy group, was also set up to support and promote the industry, he adds.