MSHR: Amend current laws to regulate vape products

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Society for Harm Reduction (MSHR) has called on the Government to amend existing laws to introduce regulations for vape products following the decision by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to exempt nicotine from the Poisons Act last Friday.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement in the Parliament earlier, MSHR also understands the Government will look to table a new bill at the next Parliament session to regulate all smoking products, including vape products. 

However, MSHR believes the wait for Dewan Rakyat in May 2023 and taking into consideration the bill will have to also go through Dewan Negara slated to take place in July 2023, may mean the new law is possibly only going to be ready in Q4 this year.

Professor Dr. Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh, Chairman of MSHR and a Public Health Physician, Health Economics Specialist and Fellow of Tun Fatimah Women Leadership from the Faculty of Medicine Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) said “Since the legislative process takes time, it means we could potentially see laws only introduced later part of this year. The wait is too long and Government should look into existing laws that can be amended or expanded to include vape products.”

“For example, current laws regulating tobacco products are already strict and should be amended to enable vape products regulated immediately given that nicotine used in vape products are also derived from tobacco. This is to ensure safeguards are in place to protect consumers from prohibited ingredients and prevent products falling into the hands of children.” 

“MSHR stands firm that vape is a less harmful alternative to tobacco and an effective harm reduction strategy. However, allowing easy access to vape products, especially amongst non-smokers and the underaged, goes against harm reduction principles.” 

At the same time, MSHR also urged the Government to develop regulations that will take into consideration the harm reduction potential of vape products. 

“Multiple independent data from local and international researches show that vape has been proven to be less harmful compared to smoking and is effective in assisting smokers to quit smoking. These independent researches have also been acknowledged by the United Kingdom and New Zealand governments who are spearheading the tobacco harm reduction agenda.”

“Therefore, in developing the regulations for vape products, the MoH needs to consider the harm reduction potential for vape products so it can be used as an alternative to smoking, especially among people who do not respond to the traditional NRT,” said Professor Dr. Sharifa.

Professor Dr. Sharifa also recommends Malaysia take learnings from other developed countries that strictly regulates the e-liquid quality and content such as MHRA in UK (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) that regulates nicotine containing products and e-liquids into the UK. The MHRA are responsible for enforcing the laws in UK to regulate the products to ensure there is minimum standards for the safety and quality of all e-cigarettes and e-liquids. 

The important part is that there are laws in place to specifically spell out restrictions for products not exceeding specific nicotine strength, maximum quantity of e-liquid in products, packaging to be child-resistant and tamper evident, banning certain ingredients including colourings, caffeine, diacetyl and taurine as well as labelling requirements and warnings on all vape products.

“All these needs to be included in any regulations to regulate vape products to ensure smokers have access to safe and quality products as a means to quit smoking completely,” she concluded.

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