PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa has admitted that the government’s decision to exempt nicotine from the Poisons Act in order to tax vape liquids is “not an ideal scenario” as the bill to regulate the sale of smoking products has not been passed.
MMA said Zaliha also admitted that she had signed off the exemption with a “heavy heart”.
She had said this at a meeting with MMA yesterday to explain the government’s stance on the matter, its president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said.
It was also attended by the Malaysian Pharmacists Society, National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, as well as ministry officials.
However, MMA still found the minister’s explanation unacceptable, Muruga said.
He said Putrajaya could have waited just one or two more months for the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022 to be tabled and passed before proceeding with the exemption.
“Health concerns must come above all,” he said in a statement.
Removing nicotine from the list of controlled substances under the Poisons Act allows any vape liquid or gel – whether containing nicotine or not – to be sold openly and legally to anyone including children of any age.
“It is no use crying over spilt milk now. The horse has bolted, but the government must be accountable for this decision.”
The government must also show it remains committed to the generational endgame policy (GEG) which sought to prohibit the sale and use of any form of smoking material, including electronic cigarettes and vape products, to individuals born after Jan 1, 2007, he said.
Muruga said the country could not afford to delay addressing the issue of growing vape addiction.
“All the tax revenue collected from the vape industry might not even be enough to pay for the medical costs to treat health issues caused by vape addiction.”
In a gazette notice published earlier this month, the health ministry said exemption from poisons control had been granted for nicotine liquids and gels used in e-cigarettes and vape products.
The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control subsequently accused Zaliha of using her ministerial powers to overrule the Poisons Board, which voted against exempting nicotine liquids and gels from the Poisons Act.
Source : FMT