Following crackdown, e-cigarette shops point to illegal online, ‘pasar malam’ sales to minors

(From centre left) Malaysia Vape Chamber of Commerce executive secretary Datuk Mohd Mustaffa Hamzah, president Syed Azaudin Syed Ahmad and Mevta president Rizeni Zakaria during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur August 28, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulya
(From centre left) Malaysia Vape Chamber of Commerce executive secretary Datuk Mohd Mustaffa Hamzah, president Syed Azaudin Syed Ahmad and Mevta president Rizeni Zakaria during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur August 28, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulya

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Groups representing e-cigarette or “vape” traders said today that it wish for the government to set regulations to govern the industry, especially regarding online sales to minors.

The Malaysian Vape Chamber of Commerce (MVCC), Malaysia E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (MEVTA.) as well as 16 other vape traders associations from each state said regulation is needed since the Ministry of Health (MOH) has undertaken strict enforcement, following complaints of sales to minors.

“Following complaints on social media, especially Facebook, regarding traders selling nicotine-based vape liquids to minors, the MOH raided many premises and confiscated their products.

“While we admit there could have been mistakes made on the part of these traders, the lack of regulation with regards to online sales is alarming. So much so that anyone can buy vape liquid online as it does not require you to provide your age,” said MVCC President Syed Azaudin Syed Ahmad during a press conference here.

“If the government puts in place rules and regulations to ascertain one’s age before selling vape liquids for online purchases, it will help identify these rogue traders and leave the honest ones to continue conducting their businesses in peace,” he added.

MOH reportedly raided 78 premises around the country and confiscated RM1.4 million worth of liquid vape, following complaints that many minors were buying products with nicotine in it.

Children as young as 10 were found to be addicted to vaping and smoking e-cigarettes with nicotine in them.

MVCC executive secretary Datuk Mohd Mustaffa said most of the sales to minors could be coming from online merchants and not the physical e-cigarette stores.

“The most difficult thing to prevent is selling these products online as there is no way to know the person’s age. Not to mention the illegal traders in ‘pasar malam’ and pop-up stores.

“That’s why we need regulations when selling these products online so that the buyer must identify themselves or provide their age before said purchase can be made,” said Mustaffa.

“On our part, if we find any traders breaking the law and selling to minors we will strip them of their membership and cooperate with the authorities with whatever action they deem fit to be taken with these rogue traders.”

MOH had previously said it will not ban the sales of e-cigarettes and vape products, but may impose regulations to curb health risks.

According to JT International Berhad, the size of the illegal vaping market in Malaysia is estimated to be some RM2 billion.

JTI Malaysia revealed that the growth rate of the illegal vaping market has more than doubled in the past year.

Together with illegal cigarettes, the illegal market now accounts for approximately 70 per cent of the total consumption in Malaysia.

All nicotine products fall under the purview of the Poisons Act 1952, and no licence has been issued by MOH for vaping products in the country.

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