300 e-cigarette stores raided in Malaysia

Shops surprised because of recent report that Cabinet had agreed not to ban vaping

PETALING JAYA • Malaysia's Health Ministry has carried out raids on more than 300 stores selling electronic cigarettes nationwide, raising howls of complaints from the store owners at the surprise move to seize their goods.

The ministry carried out the raids on Thursday evening, saying it had the right to do so to check on the nicotine content of some of the liquids sold for use with the vaporisers.

The move came as a surprise to many people because just last week it was reported that the Cabinet has agreed not to ban vaping.

The raids raised questions anew on why the smoking of normal cigarettes is still allowed if nicotine in e-cigarettes is seen as harmful. E-cigarettes are banned in Singapore.

A Malaysian Health Ministry official said the sale and use of e-cigarettes containing nicotine are subject to the Poisons Act and Food Act under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations.

Deputy health director-general Lokman Hakim has said that action would be taken against sellers and users of e-cigarettes that contained nicotine.

Malaysian Organisation of Vape Entities president Samsul Kamal Arriffin said the raids were unfair when the Cabinet had said it would not be banning vaping.

"When the Cabinet issued a statement that they were not going to ban vaping, the Health Ministry should first propose a method of regulating it before the clampdown," he said.

He added: "If they are genuinely concerned for people to stop (smoking), why would they spend so much in anti-smoking campaigns but clamp down on people who want to help others stop smoking?"

One store owner in Shah Alam, Selangor, said Health Ministry officers confiscated more than 3,000 bottles of vape liquid worth RM100,000 (S$32,710) from him.

A defiant vape store owner in Kuala Lumpur said his shop would be closed until further notice, but that the sale of e-cigarettes and its liquids could now go underground and online.

The director-general of health, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said yesterday that a study by the National Poison Centre at the Science University of Malaysia found that 40mg of nicotine contained in 10ml of vape liquids could instantly kill an adult person.

He told reporters that under the Poisons Act, nicotine can be sold or supplied as a medicine or an ingredient in medicine only by a registered medical practitioner, Bernama news agency reported him as saying.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline '300 e-cigarette stores raided in Malaysia'. Print Edition | Subscribe