KUALA LUMPUR: It is too drastic a measure for the government to ban the usage of vapes and electronic cigarettes in the country, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Tuesday (Apr 4).
Instead, the government will tax these nicotine-laced products in order to stop them from being widespread and cheap.
“We are taking a relatively simple approach which is to impose taxes while also strictly prohibiting (its usage) in parliament and schools.
“(This means) the restrictions are enough to prevent people, especially young people, from vaping or smoking,” said Mr Anwar in parliament.
He added that the government will also hold campaigns to raise awareness on the issue on top of implementing taxes on nicotine products.
“Simply banning vapes and cigarettes is a drastic measure which cannot be implemented by any country in the world.
“While we campaign about the negative effects, we will continue with taxation (in order to prevent) the item (from being) widespread and cheap,” said Mr Anwar.
He was responding to a question from Kuala Langat Member of Parliament (MP) Ahmad Yunus Hairi who expressed his disappointment over the legalisation of liquid and gel nicotine for vapes through the removal of the substances from the Poisons Act 1952.
With the removal of nicotine liquids and gel used for vapes from the Act, the substance is now legal and can be taxed.
According to the Malay Mail, an excise duty of RM0.40 (US$0.091) per millilitre on vape liquids or gel with nicotine content came into effect from Apr 1.
Mr Anwar on Tuesday also said that the government is committed to ensuring that the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022 is tabled in parliament later in May.
“I apologise for the delay because many MPs had asked for some allocations to be reviewed,” said Mr Anwar in response to a question by Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii on the issue.
The prime minister added that a move to channel 50 per cent of taxes on all nicotine-based products, instead of just vape products, towards the health ministry will be considered.
“So far, (the government has decided that) 50 per cent of proceeds collected from vape taxes will be returned to the Ministry of Health to help with health recovery measures.
“But if you want to extend it to other (nicotine products), we will consider it,” he said.
Previously, Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said her ministry would table the new Bill in parliament that will regulate all smoking products, including those containing nicotine.
The plan to impose the excise tax on liquid or gel products containing nicotine was previously announced by Mr Anwar during the tabling of Budget 2023 in February.
He said then that half of the revenue from the tax collected will be allocated to the health ministry.