SEGAMAT: While the Health Ministry is responsible for regulating electronic cigarettes and vapes that contain nicotine, it is up to the individual states to ban the sale and use of such products.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said at present, there were states, like Johor, that have already imposed a ban on the use and sale of e-cigarettes and vapes.
“Some states have also banned the use of cigarettes due to religious reasons.
“It depends on how the state governments want to handle the matter,” he told reporters after attending a Christmas event at Dewan Jubli Intan here yesterday.
Two new laws are in the pipeline to replace the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 while another will be drafted to regulate electronic cigarettes and vapes that do not contain nicotine.
Dr Subramaniam said his ministry views e-cigarettes and vapes that contain liquid nicotine the same way it treated cigarettes and would be using existing laws to regulate the products for the time being.
He said electronic cigarettes and vapes without nicotine would fall under the jurisdiction of the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK).
“For example, if it contains durian flavoured liquid, it is under KPDNKK and if it contains nicotine, then it comes directly under my ministry,” he said.
The National Cancer Society said tighter regulations on electronic cigarettes and their products were the right steps to safeguard public health including the 300,000 youth “vapers”.
“While we believe banning e-cigarettes is the only way to keep our children away from the dangers, the regulation by the three ministries is a big step forward towards addressing this major health concern,” its medical director Dr Saunthari Somasundaram said in a statement.
The Cabinet decided on Oct 28 to get the Health, Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism and Science, Technology and Innovation ministries to work together to regulate the use and sale of electronic cigarettes and vapes.
Dr Saunthari said a Health Ministry study found e-cigarettes were currently used by 300,000 students and had been tried by 710,000.
“This is beyond using e-cigarettes as a quit smoking device – a message that’s often touted by the electronic cigarettes industry,” she said.
She added that without any regulation, many were at risk of “vaping” nicotine, which is an ingredient in various e-cigarette liquids.
“We hold firm that there is no safe level limit for the use of nicotine. And we oppose recreational use of it at any level,” Dr Saunthari said.
She pointed out that nicotine, registered in Malaysia as a poison more than 60 years ago, was still regarded as a highly dangerous chemical.
“Beyond causing addiction, it also affects biological processes related to foetal growth and development, the heart, the central nervous system, and causes cancer,” she said.