Big Industry players are acknowledging that vaping is not risk-free, but there is growing scientific evidence that it is certainly less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Risk-proportionate regulations and taxation for vaping are being called to encourage smokers to switch to a low-risk alternative. With the Malaysian Government introducing a taxation on nicotine vapes, many in the vaping industry are exhaling a sigh of relief as the grey line lingering over nicotine taxation has loomed for the longest time.
In relation to that, the public are commending the Malaysian government for moving in the right direction of regulating it instead of an outright ban, as vaping products play a crucial role in reducing the enormous health burden caused by cigarette smoking.
Malaysia towards regulating vape products
The aftermath of banning vaping will only open doors for the prevalence of the black market, which poses the danger of owning and inhaling substandard products. With nicotine vapes being legal for sale and consumption, the lack of regulation needs to be addressed to prevent consumers from falling prey to black market products, perceiving netizens who are forthrightly switching to vaping as a choice.
It is in the best interest of the nation to quickly roll out proper regulations to benefit the Malaysian economy as it could lose an estimated RM1 billion tax revenue from vape products alone, being too substantial to remain unregulated.
Many individuals and groups in Malaysia are unhappy concerning the current state of vaping regulations in Malaysia, and this is in response to the multiple incidences of underage vaping and abuse of vapes by parents that has penetrated our mainstream and social media. Selling and buying vaping products to anyone aged under 18 should be strictly prohibited to avoid misuse and violations of nicotine vaping products.
There is a loophole in this process, hence why the consumers are insisting on a regulation soon. Netizens are also claiming for the regulations to strike a balance, ensuring vaping products are available for smokers as a cessation tool and concurrently ensuring these products are not marketed or sold to underaged people.
The effect of vaping as a smoking cessation tool
To date, vape has already changed the lives of millions of smokers for the better, globally and locally. According to a report commissioned by Public Health England on an evidence update including vaping for smoking cessation, vaping is positively associated with quitting smoking successfully.
In 2017, over 50,000 smokers stopped smoking with a vaping product, who would otherwise have carried on smoking. This can be taken forward if regulators develop a framework that is differentiated and evidence-based.
Additionally, in a policy note titled Age Restrictions of Vape Products, the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC), Public Health England shared existing examples and best practices from established vaping markets and other relevant industries which can be adopted and emulated in countries such as Malaysia, where vaping is yet to be regulated.
Some of the recommended actions include: introducing smart regulations and enforcing strict age restrictions on vaping devices and liquids at the point of sale, using modern age-verification technology for online sales and learning on how to improve compliance rates from other industries such as alcohol and fireworks.
With nicotine vapes being widely on sale for consumption, the vaping industry is also encouraged to be more proactive with the sales of vaping products, which does not affect legal adult vapers.
As we move into a new phase of the vaping industry in Malaysia, it is best to acknowledge the effectiveness of vape products as a smoking alternative. A study published in Addiction and funded by Cancer Research UK found that the use of e-cigarettes in an attempt of quitting went up to 69,930, who would otherwise have carried on smoking.
While vapes only carry a small fraction of the dangers of smoking, they’re not entirely risk free and should not be used by non-smokers.
e-Cigarettes as a harm reduction tool
Many people are still not aware of the fact that e-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke. Nicotine is a chemical found in cigarettes that makes it difficult to quit. It is addictive in nature and is the cause of cravings. However it is not the cause of health concerns.
The difference between smoking and vaping is that smoking delivers nicotine by burning tobacco, which leads to smoking-related illnesses over time, whereas vaping delivers nicotine through the vaporisation of e-liquids without any form of burning, resulting in a significantly reduced risk profile.
A major UK clinical trial published in 2019 also found that, when combined with expert face-to-face support, people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking were twice as likely to succeed than people who used other nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum. Users will not get the full benefit from vaping as a smoking cessation tool unless they stop smoking cigarettes completely.
Vaping as an effective smoking cessation tool has been accepted internationally in countries such as the UK, New Zealand, Canada, Philippines, Thailand and Argentina. With Malaysia moving into a new era for the vaping industry, VCAM hopes that the government will ensure proper regulation is introduced to complement the new taxation laws.