China spooked by vape crackdown in Malaysia, group says

Mevta president, Allan Foo (left) clarified that Malaysia is the world’s second-largest market for vaping after the US in terms of purchasing power, not the number of consumers. — Picture by Yuosf Mat Isa
Mevta president, Allan Foo (left) clarified that Malaysia is the world’s second-largest market for vaping after the US in terms of purchasing power, not the number of consumers. — Picture by Yuosf Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — The crackdown on vaping here has sparked concern from vape businesses in China who do trade with Malaysian counterparts, a local vape advocacy group said.

Malaysian E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (Mevta) chairman Allan Foo, who is currently in Shenzhen, China for a conference with Chinese vape traders today, said Malaysia exports vape liquids to China and imports hardware from the Asian country.

“They’re worried because Malaysia is their second-largest market, after the US,” Foo told Malay Mail Online in a recent phone interview.

Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has urged young vape entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and said yesterday he wants to see Malaysian vape products become world famous.

“Even without government support, Mevta has been trying to do what Ismail Sabri has been asking us to do,” Foo said. “Malaysian products are around the world right now”.

He said Malaysian vape businesses have been expanding overseas since 2013 and that it was Malaysians who started the vape industry in Indonesia.

According to Foo, Malaysians already have operations in Jakarta, Medan and Bandung. In China, Malaysian vape entrepreneurs are focused on Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai.

“These are the two countries we have the closest ties with. That is how Malaysia became the second-largest (vape) liquid producer, because we have backup from these two countries,” he said.

Foo also clarified that Malaysia is the world’s second-largest market for vaping after the US in terms of purchasing power, not the number of consumers.

He said Malaysian vape businesses are also working with vape advocacy groups in Canada and the US.

Foo also stressed that Mevta did not threaten to sue the government as reported in the media, but that the group was merely extending legal advice to members amid raids on vape shops last week, when the Health Ministry seized nicotine products.

“Mevta is asking the government to advise Mevta on what to do next — the solution — so we can advise our members on how they can get registered as soon as possible,” he said.

The government response to the burgeoning vape industry here has been confusing—the Health Ministry is seemingly leaning towards prohibition, but other ministries like the Rural and Regional Development Ministry and the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry are more open.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also entered the debate this week and reportedly described the Health Ministry’s raids on vape shops as rash. 

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