A new ban prohibiting vaping devices in public spaces such as eateries will not be extended to nicotine-free e-liquids, the Malaysian government has said.
A new smoking ban, which will be enforced nationwide from January 2019, will designate all restaurants and many other public venues as smoke-free and vape-free zones. However, a follow-up statement has provided some leniency for nicotine-free e-liquids.
Dr Lee Boon Chye, Deputy Health Minister, said:
“Only vapes containing nicotine are 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 … We are going to introduce a new legislation to control tobacco products and regulate vaping and shisha activities.”
The Malaysian government currently regulates smoking under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 and is still hoping to crackdown on illegal nicotine sales. According to Dr Chye:
“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 we can’t take action on non-nicotine vaping products as we don’t have the law to enforce it.”
Citizens caught violating the upcoming smoking ban will face fines of up to 10,000 Malaysian Ringgit and a prison sentence of up to two years. Business owners who fail to implement the policy on-site will be fined 2 500 Ringgit.
This is not the first time Malaysia’s vape industry has found itself under heavy governmental pressure. Hundreds of vape shops were raided without warning in January, with police seizing inventories and intimidating owners. Though the exemption of nicotine-free e-liquids and a clearer distinction between smoking and vaping is hopefully a sign of progress.