KUALA LUMPUR: Mingguan Malaysia columnist Awang Selamat has reportedly appealed to the Sultan of Johor to reconsider his order to the state government to ban sales of e-cigarettes (vape) in his state.
Awang Selamat said news of the ruler’s order had come as a shock to vape users, and questions had arisen whether it was appropriate for the sultan to have made such an order.
The columnist, whose name is a group pseudonym for editors of the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, said other states were not following suit and measures had already been taken by the health ministry, such as imposing on vape users the same restrictions as on smokers, and controlling the prices and content of vape fluids.
The column urged that vaping be treated similarly as with cigarettes and alcoholic substances, both of which were harmful but were not banned.
The Sultan’s order had come as a shock to vape users, and many were protesting in silence while others were careful in their reactions.
Awang said questions had arisen whether it was appropriate for the sultan to have ordered the state government to impose a ban.
He called for more studies to be conducted before any important decision was reached.
The sultan’s order was reported in an interview published by The Star last Sunday, in which the sultan, Tuanku Ibrahim Iskandar, had said he had called for a ban on vape sales and for vape shops to be closed. A member of the state government later said local councils would be directed to ban sales of vape liquids and devices from January 1.
Vaping was the centre of political controversy last month when the health ministry conducted raids in the Klang Valley on the grounds that vape fluids contained nicotine, a controlled substance under the Poisons Act and classified as a Category C poison, for which manufacturing and sales licences are required.
Umno politicians such as rural development minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob defended the vape business, reportedly the world’s second-biggest after the United States, as having been built up by Malay entrepreneurs.
In the press interview last week, Tuanku Ibrahim was quoted as being critical of politicians defending the business on racial grounds.