“Thousands won’t have jobs”: Vape groups again call for review of tobacco GEG

THE GOVERNMENT’s generation end game (GEG) for tobacco products continues to face fire from the vape industry, with five vape groups today reiterating their concerns about its impact on the industry and calling for a policy review.

The backlash came from the Malaysian Retail Electronic Cigarette Association (MRECA), Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy (MVIA), Malaysian Vape Chamber of Commerce (MVCC), Malaysian Vapers Alliance (MVA) and Malaysian Organisation of Vape Entity (MOVE).

Collectively, the five groups comprise more than 3,000 Malaysian vape entrepreneurs and businesses and 15,000 workers.

In a joint statement, the five vape industry associations called on the Government to review its GEG plan in the form of the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022, which aims at outlawing smoking for the next generation.

The Bill, which proposes penalising the sale of cigarettes, tobacco and vape to anyone born after 2007 with a maximum RM20,000 fine, was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (July 27).

MRECA president Datuk Adzwan Ab Manas said the GEG policy on vape products will result in the industry being banned in the future, which will lead to local industry players being out of a job.

“The industry also cannot employ anyone born after 2007 as the Bill prohibits individuals born after 2007 from possessing vape products in their employment,” he added.

“This will indeed burden the industry when looking for workers in the future,” he said.

“Creatives affected too”

MVIA president Rizani Zakaria added that an estimated 800 to 1,000 individuals in the creative and advertising industries will lose their jobs as well when the Bill comes into effect.

“Many workers in the industry, including product reviewers, creative content executives, graphic designers, marketing executives, creative editors and video editors, will lose their jobs because this Bill has a very extreme ban on marketing activities.”

MVA president Khairil Azizi Khairuddin, on the other hand, said the Bill should not equate vape with cigarettes as vape is not a cigarette, and so vaping cannot be considered to be smoking.

“The Health Ministry cannot ignore this fact,” he said. “The interpretation of ‘smoking’, ‘smoking device’ and ‘smoking substance’ needs to be corrected (to only refer to) tobacco products.

“Vape should not be categorised together in this interpretation in the Bill as it gives the wrong message to consumers.”

MVCC secretary-general Ridhwan Rosli said while the vape industry supports the Government’s attempt to come up with regulations for the industry, the Bill in its current form must be improved first.

Echoing this, MOVE president Samsul Kamal Ariffin Mohd Basir said a comprehensive study of the Bill and the implementation of the GEG on alternative products such as vape products and tobacco heating products should be carried out.

“The result of this study needs to be presented to all parties involved before a decision is made,” he added.

On Thursday (July 28), the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) of Health, Science and Innovation recommended delaying the GEG for three years to “strengthen preparations” for effective implementation and give more time for the Government to prepare a “proper” inter-governmental enforcement framework.

Earlier today, the PSSC of Women, Children and Social Development asked to be involved in determining whether provisions under the Bill are in line with international child rights and standards. – July 30, 2022

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