The sin tax imposed on cigarettes may be extended to vaping devices and e-liquids. Pic by Mohd Asri Saifuddin Mamat

KUALA LUMPUR: Manufacturers and sellers of vaping devices will be subjected to a major shift in the way they market their gadgets and accompanying odds and ends.

As the authorities work together to address concerns related to the rapidly-growing trend of vaping, those in the business are looking at being subjected to a systematic mechanism that will serve to safeguard public safety and health.

The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry told the New Sunday Times that in looking at regulating the industry, those in the business could soon be allowed to only sell devices that were certified and approved by the Department of Standards Malaysia (Sirim-approved).

Its secretary-general, Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad, said there was a need to regulate the prices of vaping devices and e-liquids to protect consumers.

He said the ministry was working with the Health Ministry and would engage stakeholders to ensure that all areas in the regulation of vaping were covered.

“Give us enough time to study the important aspects (concerning vaping), including legal and health issues, as well as the impact that the trend has on society (before decisions are finalised).”

The Health Ministry is already looking at tangible measures to be put in place to regulate vaping.

Vapers in the country, whose numbers rank second only to the United States, may have to fork out more, as the ministry is looking at extending the sin tax imposed on cigarettes to vaping devices and e-liquids.

The proposed change in the industry is on top of other new regulatory measures likely to be introduced, including import control.

The spirit behind this, said the ministry, was to discourage the habit.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam told the New Straits Times on Friday that he was looking at imposing a minimum age requirement for those buying and using vaping devices.

Another measure would be to make it compulsory for the ingredients in e-liquids to be listed on the labels.

As the rules to govern vaping continue to snowball, he said, the ministry would likely limit the places where vaping was allowed, similar to the way it had prohibited cigarette smoking in areas gazetted as non-smoking zones.

He said this was important to protect non-vapers from the potential health risks that vaping could pose.

He said the ministry was worried by the speed with which the vaping trend had picked up in the country.

“The estimate is that there are one million vapers in the country.

“Vaping is now unregulated, (and) we can’t allow it. We are coming up with regulations that will control vaping-related activities as soon as possible.

“We’ve been studying them (regulations) for some time now, and we will start soon. We’ve got enough power to act.”

Dr Subramaniam said he hoped vapers would consider the fact that vaping had not been scientifically proven safe, and would cease from the habit until the ministry and experts concluded research on the health risks not only to those who vaped, but also “passive vapers”.

He said it was important to realise that vaping was a relatively new trend, and although there was insufficient evidence to conclusively prove the dangers of vaping devices, experts had warned that the health risks from vaping might manifest over the long term.

He said while there might be different schools of thought on the matter, including one that suggested vaping was a safer option to smoking cigarettes because of the lower nicotine content, it could take up to 20 years to gather evidence.

“There’s no hard evidence at present (to suggest vaping is safe). We have little information on it.

“Why pick up something that may be bad?

“My advice to all smokers, whether cigarettes, shisha, cigars, pipes or e-cigarettes — choose to stay healthy.”

Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who opposes the ban on vaping, said he concurred with the need for regulation, and to ensure that the use of nicotine and other chemicals in e-liquids was safe.

He said the government should also focus on reducing the number of smokers. Additional reporting by Rahmat Khairulijal