Industry urges unity gov’t to protect the fate of Bumiputera vape traders

THE Health Parliament Special Select Committee (PSSC) has urged the government to delay the enforcement of the Tobacco Control Bill for Public Health 2023. This matter is stated on the PSSC website and stands as one of the 12 committee conclusions in the bill review report.

The deferment of enforcement as stipulated in the offense provisions under Sections 18 and 19 of the Bill is for a specific period of time or until the periodic report required by the Bill is presented.

Coinciding with this is a media conference by six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the electronic cigarette or vape industry which have requested for a postponement of the Tobacco Control Bill for Public Health 2023.

The six NGOs are the Malaysia E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (MEVTA), Malaysia Retail Electronic Cigarette Association (MRECA), Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy (MVIA), Malaysia e-Liquid Brewers Association (MEBA), Persatuan Peniaga Vape Melayu (PPVM) and the Dewan Perniagaan Vape Malaysia (DPVM).

All six NGOs will also submit a memorandum to Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after claiming that they were sidelined by Health Ministry (MOH) in the matter.

Livelihood affected

According to DVPM secretary-general Ridhwan Rosli, the industry has never requested for any government assistance since its inception in Malaysia but has instead faced various obstacles to grow.

Ridhwan Rosli

“If you look at it, other industries request all sorts of things. We didn’t even ask for subsidies. What we’re asking for is a bill that can regulate this industry to make it safer,” he lamented. “No industry is asking to be regulated. Only the vape industry. We’re asking for regulation but now it seems like we’re being coerced by GEG (the Generation End Game) policy.”

Ridhwan added that the industry has created a large ecosystem with nearly 200,000 households depending on its income.

“This is an industry owned by Malays. Because of the vape industry, many people’s lives have changed. If we close this source of income, what are we going to tell their families?” he asked.

On the other hand, MVIA vice-president Rustam Affendi Ismadi Rahimi is hopeful that when this bill is presented again in the future, the government can take into account the views and complaints of the industry, and “include them in the process from the beginning until the bill is presented”.

Rustam Affendi Ismadi Rahimi

“If we don’t speak up, who will? This is our struggle and we will fight to the end. This is the livelihood of 50,000 players in the industry – from workers, manufacturers and retailers,” he revealed.

“Many of our workers are from the B40 group. Some have never been to school. This industry provides them with the opportunity to work with a fair wage to support their families.”

Added Rustam Affendi: “That’s why we want to meet with the PM personally to voice our suggestions and complaints.” – Oct 10, 2023

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