PLAYERS in the electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) industry have expressed their interest in being part of the government’s policy discussions that would chart the path for the business following the introduction of a specific tax system on vape products this year.
Malaysia Retail Electronic Cigarette Association (MRECA) president Datuk Adzwan Ab Manas said Malaysia could emulate the system and regulations that are being practiced in the UK.
“The industry associations in Malaysia plan to submit its proposed regulations to the government, including the Health Ministry (MoH), among others, to adopt the provisions of the UK’s Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016,” Adzwan told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.
He said the recognition by the government will spur the growth of the vape industry in Malaysia.
“MRECA requests the government to urgently form a committee that includes industry associations to discuss and propose to the government comprehensive regulations to protect consumers through appropriate product regulations,” Adzwan said.
He added that many Malaysian manufacturers that are already exporting to the UK are also in compliance with the local and European laws.
He said the next step is to remove restrictions on e-liquids that contain nicotine and enact laws to ensure vape products in the country meet internationally recognised safety standards.
Adzwan said the adoption of the PAS 54115:2015 is recommended for electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) manufactured in or imported into Malaysia.
The PAS 54115 was developed by the British Standards Institution, the UK’s national standards body, in collaboration with the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association.
It is aimed at reducing the likelihood of unlicensed or rogue products being sold to the general public or children.
The PAS 54115 also gives guidance on the manufacturing, import, labelling, marketing and sale of vaping products, which include e-cigarettes, e-shishas and DIY e-liquid mixing kits.
Adzwan said relevant sections of the PAS 54115 that could be adopted include “purity of e-liquid ingredients in the manufacture, contaminants arising from device materials, potential emissions from device operation, electrical safety, and metals and carbonyls in emissions”.
Malaysia will be imposing excise duty for e-cigarette devices, non-e-cigarette devices, juices and gels, including non-nicotine type, during importation, with exceptions given to local manufacturers.
Royal Malaysian Customs Department DG Datuk Seri Abdul Latif Abdul Kadir said devices will be charged excise duty at an ad valorem rate of 10%, while liquids and gels will be charged a rate of 40 sen for each millilitre.
He said local manufacturers would be licensed under Section 20 of the Excise Act 1976 with a licence payment of RM4,800 a year, while warehouse licence fee under Section 25 of the same act is RM2,400 a year.
The taxation on vape products is largely deemed as a major step to legalise the use of vape in Malaysia.
A recent TMR report stated that the government is projected to gain between RM265 million and RM300 million in tax revenue relating to vape products in the first year of the levies, if nicotine type is included.
The tax revenue on vape products that have zero nicotine levels, however, would be significantly lower as the majority of e-liquids in the local market contain nicotine.
From a dollars-and-cents angle, MoH argued that the vape industry and activities would increase enforcement operation cost and medical treatment, according to a recent parliamentary reply.
The UK and many other parts of the world seemed to be more receptive to vape.
Research by Public Health England in 2018 found vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco.
In a recent study published in October last year, Cochrane Review found that more people would probably stop smoking for at least six months using nicotine e-cigarettes than using nicotine replacement therapy or nicotine-free e-cigarettes.
The review also revealed that for every 100 people using nicotine e-cigarettes to stop smoking, 10 might successfully stop, compared to only six of 100 people using nicotine-replacement therapy or nicotine-free e-cigarettes, or four of 100 people having no support or behavioural support only.
However, Cochrane Review stated that it is uncertain if there is a difference between the unwanted effects that would occur using nicotine e-cigarettes compared to using nicotine-free e-cigarettes, nicotine replacement therapy, no support or behavioural support only.
The review stated that similar low numbers of unwanted effects, including serious unwanted effects, were reported for all groups.
“The unwanted effects reported most often with nicotine e-cigarettes were throat or mouth irritation, headache, cough and feeling sick. These effects reduced over time as people continued using nicotine e-cigarettes,” it added.
In the UK, 20,000 successful new smoking quits per year resulting from vaping have been recorded.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Faculty of Medicine community medicine Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh told TMR that the success rate of programmes to quit smoking in Malaysia is diverse, mainly due to access limitations and resources that often affect the rate of follow up by patients.
She said vape used as a tool to quit tobacco smoking is poorly recognised on the lack of local and controlled “switching” studies, while the harm reduction views have very poor local support.
Malaysia is among the top four e-liquid exporters along the US, Europe and China, tapping the global ENDS market value estimated at US$14 billion (RM56.91 billion) in 2018 and projected to grow to US$50 billion in 2025.
It has 200 vape brands exported abroad, including 10 major local vape juice manufacturers.
There are 1.5 million e-liquid users in the country at RM2.4 billion retail sales per annum.
Source: The Malaysian Reserve