Malaysia like the 'Wild West' for vapes, says Khairy

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is like the Wild West for vape products as there are no laws governing its sale and use, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

"There were enforcement issues before, but we regularly acted against vape sales – especially to minors – and vape products could not be advertised. It's now the Wild West in Malaysia as there is no enforcement because there are no laws against vapes," said the former health minister.

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He said this in a tweet on Monday (July 17) in response to an episode of Al Jazeera's 101 East documentary series which exposed six shops selling nicotine-based products to a young buyer who identified herself as a "starter" to vaping.

"I'm sorry it's come to this," said Khairy.

The documentary team went undercover to six vape shops in Kuala Lumpur and found that none asked the girl for identification to verify her age before selling highly addictive nicotine-based vape products to her, despite four of them displaying "18+" signs.

On April 1, the Health Ministry published a gazette exempting nicotine liquids and gels used in e-cigarettes and vape products from poisons control, which drew criticism from the public and various health groups.

ALSO READ: Concerned over rising trend in NCDs, vaping among youth, Health Ministry urges tabling of GEG Bill

Khairy had said that this means that no action can be taken over the sale and marketing of vape products until a new law is in place.

Three NGOs – the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, the Malaysian Green Lung Association, and Voice of the Children – have since initialised a judicial review to review the decision.

They named Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and the government as respondents, and are seeking a court order to nullify Dr Zaliha's decision on March 31 to amend the Poisons Act.

Dr Zaliha had said the new Tobacco Control Bill would regulate all smoking products, and include nicotine liquids and gels used in e-cigarettes and vape products.

The Bill, known as the generational end-game (GEG) bill, was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat last month, and has been referred to a Parliamentary committee yet again for review.

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