No smoking rule in restaurants excludes vaping, deputy health minister says

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye delivering his speech at the launching of ‘Pink In Health; We Can I Can Initiative’ at Aeon Klebang, Ipoh. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye delivering his speech at the launching of ‘Pink In Health; We Can I Can Initiative’ at Aeon Klebang, Ipoh. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Oct 14 — Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said today the new ban against smoking in public places and eateries will not be extended to vaping.

He explained that under current laws, the authorities could only take action on vape products which contain nicotine.  

“Only vape which contains nicotine is considered illegal, but as for whether vaping of non-nicotine products is an offence or not, what I can tell is that, at the moment, there is no law against that,” he told reporters at the launch of a health programme at Aeon Klebang here.

“Unauthorised selling of nicotine is an offence as nicotine is under the Drug Act, We can take action on those premises that provide vaping services with nicotine, but in order to take action on non-nicotine vaping product we don’t have the law to enforce it,” he said.  

But Dr Lee said the government is looking to draw up a new law to control vaping.

“Our focus now is to legislate tobacco control and smoking activities. When that legislation is approved, then there may be a way to regulate the vaping activities as well,” he said.

Last Friday, Dr Lee announced that the government will ban smoking in all eateries throughout Malaysia from next year onwards, including in open-air outlets.

He said action will be taken under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 against restaurant owners and smokers who flout the new ruling.

“Eateries that allow customers to smoke despite the ban will be fined up to RM2,500, while those who smoke at prohibited places will face a maximum fine of RM10,000 or two years’ jail,” he said.

This new ruling is on top of the smoke-free areas that are already in place in government buildings and public spaces.

He also reiterated a suggestion for Parliament’s smoking room to be closed by next month in a bid to turn the entire law-making House into a smoke-free zone.  

“We should not be giving exemptions to parliamentarians as we have already legislated that all government premises should be smoke-free.

“We advise the parliamentarians who smoke to quit smoking if possible or if they find it hard, then they should try another option such as nicotine gum,” he said.