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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — The youth wing of Malay rights groups Perkasa today voiced its opposition to Putrajaya's proposal to ban vaping, a policy it claimed to be motivated by profit.
Wira Perkasa chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris said the Ministry of Health's (MOH) justification that the ban was necessary for health reasons was absurd, arguing that if that is the case, the government should also declare cigarettes illegal.
"Why should you ban vapors? Don't you know that a lot of European countries have actually allowed and even encourage vaping?
"Among them is the Public Health Services of England which issued a statement that vapors are 95 per cent safer than cigarettes. So what exactly are their reasons to ban vaping?" Irwans said in a statement.
"Why is that the tobacco cigarettes which are clearly unhealthy is not banned? Is it because the sales of vapors do not profit the government from tax? Do not be unfair: allowing dangerous but taxable cigarettes but banning 'untaxable' vapors," he added.
Earlier this week Minister of Health Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said the government is considering banning vapors for health reasons.
The proposal, however, sparked an uproar and prompted deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya to clarify today that there has yet to be any decision on whether vaping will be banned.
Dr Hilmi noted that a ban on vaping would have a direct effect on cigarettes, because both products contain nicotine.
Irwan today questioned the earlier announcement by Dr Subramaniam, when the ministry itself has promoted vaping as one of the means to quit smoking.
"It is now known that vapors help smokers quit cigarettes. We know action (against smokers) is impossible because tobacco tax contributes so much to government coffers," the Perkasa youth chief added.
Irwan claimed that the majority of people running vape-related businesses are from the Bumiputera community, another reason behind Perkasa's rejection of the ban.
The National Fatwa Council has prohibited Muslims from vaping amid the rapid growth of the multi-million ringgit industry in Malaysia that is purportedly the second biggest in the world.
Local daily The Star reported last June Vaporizer Convention Kuala Lumpur 2015 co-organiser Ibrahim Mohamed as saying that Malaysia’s vape industry, worth half a billion ringgit, is the second biggest globally after the United States and is the largest in Asia.
Ibrahim reportedly said there are an estimated one million vapers in Malaysia.