Outrage as vape shops forced to close after health ministry crackdown

Shops in Shah Alam, Subang, Bandar Sunway and Kelana Jaya have halted their operations after raids which were carried out this afternoon. — File pic
Shops in Shah Alam, Subang, Bandar Sunway and Kelana Jaya have halted their operations after raids which were carried out this afternoon. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — The Health Ministry has officially begun confiscating nicotine content found in e-cigarettes from vape shops, in a move which has angered traders as some shops have been forced to temporarily halt operations.

Some vape shops have had no choice but to temporarily close shop after health ministry confiscated all their nicotine products, which they say is essential for most of their clientele who are ex-smokers.

Checks by Malay Mail Online found that some shops in Shah Alam, Subang, Bandar Sunway and Kelana Jaya have halted their operations after raids which were carried out this afternoon.

"They say they wanted to do tests and showed a letter which states that they can confiscate vaping liquids which contain nicotine," vape shop owner Mohd Azlan Mustafa told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Mohd Azlan, whose shop is located in Shah Alam said the raid was done at 3pm today, adding that the total losses so far was estimated to be around RM1,000.

"The notice of seizure was given and the health ministry officer said that if I wanted to file an appeal it had to be done within 24 hours but what it the point?

"We are not selling raw nicotine," he said.

A vape shop employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the same thing happened to the place he was working in Sunway in the afternoon.

"They came and took all the nicotine products. We have to close shop for at least two days.

"We have no more stock, without nicotine how are we going to operate?" he told Malay Mail Online.

A vape shop owner in Kelana Jaya whose shop was also raided said he would probably find alternative ways to sell vape products with nicotine.

"Order online and send by pos laju," he told Malay Mail Online.

The Malaysian E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (Mevta) president Allan Foo said the government's hasty decision in clamping down against vape traders was unwarranted and would result in some people losing their jobs and means to support their families.

"This is their livelihood, their bread and butter.

"The government could have at least given a grace period before the raids or just take samples of nicotine products," he told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

"The raids are happening nationwide. My members have informed me that many states have been affected," Foo added.

The Health Ministry said on Tuesday it will confiscate nicotine content found in e-cigarettes from all traders nationwide, in a move to discourage Malaysians from vaping.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said that the ministry is empowered to do do under the 1952 Poisons Act and 1983 Food Act, pointing out that vape shops are currently not licensed to sell any products which contain nicotine.

Concerns over vaping exist largely due to their initial positioning as electronic replacements for cigarettes, prompting fears that the former may be as harmful as conventional tobacco use.

While the health risks of smoking are well established, the dangers involved in using e-cigarettes have not been conclusively determined.

The more apparent risk comes from users jury-rigging their own vaporisers using diverse components and without proper research, as seen from incidents involving exploding e-cigarettes.

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