KUALA LUMPUR: The government needs to look into short- and long-term measures to limit harm and exposure of children and young people to nicotine, said the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC).
In a statement on Saturday (April 8), MCTC said this is needed after the Health Ministry exempted nicotine liquids and gels from the Poisons Act 1952.
"We are deeply aggrieved by the decision of the Health Ministry and the government to continue with its move to remove nicotine liquid and gel preparations from the Poisons list for the purposes of using it for electronic cigarettes and electric vaporising devices in the form of liquid or gel.
"This move had been carried out despite exhortations and pleas from thousands of health professionals including those within the MCTC umbrella.
"We are deeply concerned with the dangerous precedent that this has set where the health of Malaysians, especially children and young people, have been put at risk merely for the idea of raising revenue.
"There is little transparency available on actual taxation measures, so it is not understood in terms of timelines on when actual tax collection would actually even begin," said the umbrella civil society body for tobacco control in Malaysia.
MCTC said that nicotine is now readily available for all and sundry with increased exposure to children and young people without any control mechanisms in place.
"We urge the Health Ministry and Federal Government to ensure the wellbeing of its people are looked into, with short-term, mid-term and long-term measures.
"For short-term measures, the government needs to put active measures in place to limit the exposure of children and young people to nicotine in vaping and other ecigarette devices.
"This may be done via cooperation with other agencies and ministries since there are no significant health legislative tools which may be used to limit harm at this point.
"Mid-term measures include the need to table the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill as per its original intent and content as quickly as possible.
"Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has given his commitment that this will be done in the next Parliament meeting in May, and we implore that this timeline be adhered to.
"Within the Bill are comprehensive measures for vaping and electronic cigarettes - including key measures prohibiting its use to those under 18," the council said.
MCTC said the long-term measures should include a comprehensive strategy to contain and control nicotine addiction which will continue to rise exponentially now with this move.
"Education campaigns need to be strengthened and significant resources devoted to this move," it added.
The government has gazetted an excise duty for vape liquids containing nicotine at 40 sen per millilitre.
This new duty was imposed as of April 1, following the commencement of the Excise Duties (Amendment) Order 2023.
In order for this excise tax to be legally possible, the Health Minister had to exempt nicotine liquids and gels from the Poisons Act 1952, which was announced March 31, 2023.