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KUALA LUMPUR: The ministry of health (MoH) should tax and regulate nicotine vape products immediately, said Retail and Trade Brands Advocacy Malaysia Chapter (RTBA Malaysia), following the recent announcement that the tabling of a new act has been delayed.

RTBA Malaysia managing director Datuk Fazli Nordin said the delay would mean taxation relating to nicotine vape products cannot be implemented until the said act completes its legislative process later this year.

"While we appreciate and welcome MoH's effort in taking the time to develop the right regulations and policy for vape products, this process is taking far too long.

"We must not further delay the move to allow the industry to operate legally and contribute much needed revenue to the government's coffers," he said in a statement today.

Fazli reiterated that MoH need to take steps to regulate the vape industry now.

This can be done quickly by issuing a directive or regulations on product ingredients for nicotine vape products especially on the nicotine level allowed and amend the Poisons Act 1952 to enable the taxation on nicotine vaping liquids.

"If the delay is because the act has yet to be finalised, the MoH should move quickly to amend the Poisons Act 1952 to enable nicotine vape products to be sold and issue a directive or regulations on product ingredients to all industry players on the product.

"This is to ensure the industry immediately complies with safety and quality standards especially on the nicotine level and ingredients of vape liquids, whilst also paying taxes for the products," he said.

Fazli said with the delay now, not only will consumers continue buying products that are unregulated, the government will also lose millions in ringgit in tax collection which is much needed revenue.

"Therefore the MoH must not waste any more time on this matter," he said.

RTBA is a non-governmental organisation advocating for effective regulatory, financial and taxation policies affecting retailers and brand.

Last year in November, the finance minister in tabling the Budget 2022, announced excise duties of RM1.20 per millilitre for nicotine-based gel or liquid products for vapes and electronic cigarette.

However, the implementation of the excise tax has been postponed indefinitely as the nicotine vape liquids are currently listed as Group C poison under Poisons Act 1952.

The Malaysian vape industry is currently valued at RM2.27 billion.

In addition to its potential to contribute significantly to the government's revenue in the form of taxes, the industry that is made up of 3,300 small and medium enterprises (SME) also provides jobs to more than 15,000 workers in Malaysia.

The delay also means it will also hinder the growth of this industry in Malaysia and leave thousands of workers uncertain of their future.

"The MoH needs to see this objectively and consider the various implications with the delay.

"Thousands of workers are uncertain of their future, and industry is still operating without clear direction from the government.

"Further, consumers are accessing unregulated products and the government is deprived of much needed tax revenue. All these can be solved with simple solutions," Fazli said.