Special committee on vaping formed, to resolve issue

09 Nov 2015 / 00:28 H.

PETALING JAYA: The government today announced the formation of a Committee on Vaping to look into all issues surrounding the use of the e-cigarettes following heated debates over a proposed ban.
Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam (pix) said the committee will be chaired by the ministry's director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and consists of representatives from among others, the Disease Control and General Health Divisions.
"Beginning today, all statements on vapes will be issued by the special committee and I will not answer any more questions on the issue," he said after launching the national-level mega community self-help (gotong royong) exercise against the Aedes mosquito in Petaling Jaya
Speaking to the media later, Noor Hisham said the committee will convene its first meeting today to thrash out details of the contentious issue.
"The outcome of the meeting will be announced after looking into vaping in detail," he said, adding that their main task was to address and solve all vape-related issues.
"We will also consult stakeholders on the matter, especially on the issue of safety concerns and industry compliance to the Poison Act after the meeting," he added.
He denied that the ministry's hard stance against vaping was due to pressure from the tobacco industry, and said it was a matter of adhering to existing laws.
Asked to comment on Malaysian E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association's (Mevta) plans to take legal action, he said, it is their right to do so but the law is on the Ministry's side.
"The Act is on our side, our responsibility is to carry it out. If they want to sue us on that then by all means, it is their right," Noor Hisham said.
The Health Ministry had recently begun raiding vape or e-cigarette shops to confiscate liquid nicotine, which is considered a harmful drug by authorities.
However, vape proponents have argued that it is a less harmful and cheaper alternative to cigarettes, and banning it will only drive it underground.
The Malaysian E-Vaporisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (Mevta) is also considering taking legal action against the Ministry.
In an immediate reaction, the Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs Association of Malaysia (Ikhlas), along with two other non-governmental organisations lodged a report at the Dang Wangi police headquarters today.
Ikhlas president Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah said the ministry had only caused confusion among the public by issuing inconsistent statements over the issue.
He added the vape industry was disappointed with the hasty decision to raid and seize nicotine products in several vape outlets without having discussion with the industry players first.
"The ministry must stop such seizures of vape items. Refusing to do so, we urge the minister to step down from his position," he said.
"Why is there inconsistency by the ministry in making its statements? Decision was suddenly made without any concrete evidence," he told reporters after lodging a police report here.
He also urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to step in and provide solution to the issue before it escalated more.
"There are currently more than one million vapers in this country.
"We do not want the matter to become a political issue, which will subsequently affect the reputation of the current government," he said.
"If this is not resolved soon, the government will lose the vote of one million people (in the next election)," he added.


thesundaily_my Sentifi Top 10 talked about stocks