KUALA LUMPUR: Over 70 per cent bumiputera and local entrepreneurs will be affected if the government decide to ban e-cigarettes and vaping products.
Malaysian Vape Chamber of Commerce (MVCC) president Syed Azaudin said such harsh move will severely dent retailers and create an illegal market with unregulated vape products which is far more dangerous.
"A total ban on vaping will also impact the livelihoods of thousands working in the vaping industry, including bumiputera and local entrepreneurs, who have invested a significant amount of money and efforts to grow their business," he told The New Straits Times recently.
"We don’t agree with any calls for ban on vaping as such move will push vapers who have quit smoking to turn back to cigarette smoking," he said.
Syed pointed out that an average vape retailer, depending on locations, invest between RM50,000 to RM250,000 to open a proper and legitimate vape store.
This investment includes rental, renovations, product supplies, sales activities and employing as well as training the staff to operate the business and the stores.
He added that there are also some owners who conduct their businesses online (e-commerce) and may incur additional cost with that business model as they also operate a vape shop.
"But the retail is only one part of the industry. The whole industry has manufacturers, importers, logistic and warehouse companies, distributors and through this supply chain, the industry has created thousands of jobs as the industry continues to grow and contribute to the economy," he said, adding that the complete ban would wipe out the entire supply chain of the business.
Syed said MVCC has approximately 1,800 members nationwide comprising of legitimate registered companies in various part of the supply chain and each member has between 1 – 50 staff.
He said the vape industry is reflective of the Malaysian population demographic, and customers are made up of mainly Malay consumers hence, there is a large and ever-growing demand for vape from the Malay community.
Syed said back in 2015, the overall vape industry in Malaysia was once valued at an estimated RM2.8 billion.
The industry saw a decline slightly subsequently but has since grown back as demand increased domestically and globally in the past 2 years.
"We also know some of the industry players export and market their products to other countries. Not many are aware, but the truth is some Malaysian made products are household brands in the global vaping industry and many of their products are in demand in other countries such as the UK and Middle East," he said.
Syed further iterated that those who are calling for an outright ban on vape is either misinformed or irresponsible.
"They have made many negative statements on the products but totally ignored the positive side of the products. For example, Public Health England, a health agency in the UK has stated that e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful compared to cigarettes.
"This has been supported by many other international health NGOs such as the Action on Smoking and Health, Cancer Research UK. But over here the Malaysian NGOs ignored these facts and spread fear that the products are more dangerous than cigarettes," he said.
Syed however said regulations are important and it has to cover all aspects in the industry on the manufacturing, import/export, distribution, sales and usage.
"That way, it will prevent any unscrupulous traders selling to the children and stop children from using the products. At the same time, it will ensure the products meets safety standards and prevent cases such as those reported in the United States recently," he said.
He also added that the Malaysian vape market is a multi-billion ringgit industry and has the potential to grow even more.
"While we welcome the new laws to regulate the vaping industry, we view that the Government should consider examples of how other countries that allow sales of vape products in a regulated environment and use of e-liquid containing nicotine at a capped level," he said.