THE Malaysian Society for Harm Reduction (MSHR) has called on the unity government to amend existing laws to introduce regulations for vape products following the decision by the Health Ministry (MOH) to exempt nicotine from the Poisons Act last Friday (March 31).
Following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement in the Dewan Rakyat earlier today, 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 to re-commence in May and for the bill to only go through Dewan Negara in July may mean the new law is possibly only going to be ready in 4Q 2023.
“Since the legislative process takes time, this means that we could potentially see new laws be introduced only later part of this year. As the wait is too long, the government should look into existing laws that can be amended or expanded to include vape products,” commented MSHR’s chairman Professor Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh.
“For example, current laws regulating tobacco products are already strict and should be amended to enable vape products to be 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 as well as to prevent the products from 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 among non-smokers and the under-aged goes against harm reduction principles,” noted Dr Sharifa who is also a Fellow of Tun Fatimah Women Leadership from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Faculty of Medicine.
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,” observed the public health physician and health economics specialist.
“These independent researches have also been acknowledged by the UK and New Zealand governments who are spearheading the tobacco harm reduction agenda.”
Added Dr Sharifa: “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 (nicotine replacement therapy).” – April 4, 2023