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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Vape traders claim Khairy misled them on GEG


Vape industry players have been clamouring for regulations.

PETALING JAYA: Local vape industry players have claimed health ministry Khairy Jamaluddin pressured and misled them into supporting the Generational End Game (GEG) to ban tobacco and vape products for those born after 2007.

Industry leaders claim that they were presented with an ultimatum from Khairy at recent meetings. FMT has reached out to Khairy’s office and the health ministry for comment.

Samsul Kamal Ariffin, president of the Malaysian Organisation of Vape Entity, is among those who claimed Khairy put them under pressure when he spoke at a gathering with other industry people on Friday.

Samsul said he and a few others in the industry had been asked to meet Khairy earlier this month. At the first meeting, Khairy allegedly told them to ask their peers to support the GEG as it was the only way to get vape regulations in place.

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Samsul Kamal Ariffin.

He alleged that Khairy said the government would impose a ban on vape if there was no industry support for GEG.

The GEG is being realised through the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill, which is scheduled to be debated on Tuesday at the Dewan Rakyat.

Those who contravene the act face a maximum compound of RM50, according to Khairy.

The bill also provides for enforcement officers to open any baggage or container and examine tobacco or substitute tobacco products and smoking devices, without a warrant.

Meanwhile, another vape industry person who attended the meeting with Khairy and ministry officials on July 21, said people in the industry were shocked when the bill was tabled on Friday.

“Khairy told us that the health ministry wanted a ban on vape and that officially, it could not recognise tobacco harm reduction measures,” the source told FMT.

Several countries like the United Kingdom and New Zealand have adopted harm-reduction strategies including promoting the use of vape as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes.

The source said Khairy said regulations on vaping were needed as many smokers had switched to vaping and a lack of regulations would cause people to turn to black market products.

“Khairy said that he came under fire from health groups when he said he intended to regulate vaping. “He said, ‘I have to give them something, and that is GEG; without GEG they won’t support (vape regulations).”

According to the source, Khairy said he needed the support from the vape industry on GEG. He said the details on vaping regulations could be worked out after the bill was passed.

“But we were shocked when the bill was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat. It is nowhere near what he had told us.” Vape products had been lumped together with cigarettes, contrary to what Khairy had said, and the act of possession, use and sale was made an offence.

“Vape and cigarettes are two very different products, something Khairy acknowledges. Why talk about different regulations when he is trying to bulldoze a law that treats vape like cigarettes?” the source said.

“The fines and punishments listed in the bill are so heavy. Khairy said the maximum compound would be RM50, but that’s not what is listed in the bill.”

The source said more transparency and stakeholder engagement was needed before any law is brought to the Dewan Rakyat. - FMT

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