As the debate continues regarding the effectiveness of vaping in helping smokers to stop smoking, the fact remains that the RM2.27 billion vaping industry is unregulated, meaning the over one million vape users in the country are consuming products which are unregulated and of unknown quality and content.

As part of its purpose to build “A Better Tomorrow”, British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Berhad (BAT Malaysia) is advocating for the introduction of a specific regulatory framework for vaping in Malaysia.

BAT Malaysia director of legal & external affairs Nicholas Booth said: “BAT Malaysia believes that an evidence-based regulatory framework should be put in place for vape products and these products need to be differentiated and regulated separately from tobacco products due to its reduced risk nature.”

Booth added that BAT Malaysia aimed to reduce the health impacts of its business by offering greater choices of less risky products to its customers, including vape products.

$!BAT Malaysia director of legal & external affairs Nicholas Booth.

“Vaping is growing exponentially in Malaysia,” Booth said. “According to a survey published by a local vaping industry body, 88% of Malaysian vapers who used to smoke cigarettes have successfully quit smoking with the aid of vape.”

These findings, Booth said, reflect international trends.

He adds that governments in the United Kingdom and New Zealand are already encouraging the use of vaping as an alternative to smoking, and that products are regulated accordingly.

“We are clear that reducing the health impact of our business is a key element of our sustainability strategy. We are also placing a greater emphasis on achieving excellence in environmental management by battling climate change through greater use of renewable energy and a push towards carbon neutrality in our operations as well as through waste reduction and elimination of single use plastics (SUPs).”

BAT Malaysia's harm reduction, environmental, social and governance goals are part of the overall company’s sustainability strategy. Elaborating on the company’s efforts in creating a positive social impact, Booth said BAT Malaysia would continue to push its diversity and inclusion agenda, which includes ensuring “fair and equal representation of women and different nationalities in the management and leadership roles within the company”.

As part of this, it has set specific objectives including having 45% of management roles filled by women, increase the proportion of women in senior teams to 40% and 50% spread of distinct nationalities in its leadership team by 2025

“We are also looking into our sustainable community investment programs to empowering local communities for shared prosperity and the details of this would be announced soon,” Booth concluded.