PETALING JAYA: Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin has urged the health ministry to immediately table the Tobacco Products and Smoking Control Bill now that nicotine liquids and gels have been exempted from poisons control.
Khairy said his stand had always been that a new law must be in place to regulate the sale of vape liquids before granting an exemption from the Poisons Act in order to levy a tax on the substances.
“Without a new Act, there will be a lacuna in the law because vapes will not be regulated at all.
“With the exemption given before a new law is in place, no action can be taken over the sale and marketing of vape. It’s a free for all now,” he said in a series of Twitter posts.
He said the need for controls was why (when he was minister) the health ministry came up with the Tobacco Products and Smoking Control Bill.
If the bill had become law, vape products containing nicotine would be regulated. “But the bill wasn’t approved in time,” he said.
The tobacco control bill was tabled in August last year and referred to a parliamentary committee for review. The bill lapsed when Parliament was dissolved in October.
Health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said today she expects to table a new bill when Parliament resumes in May. The bill would seek to regulate all smoking products, including smoking materials containing nicotine, “to ensure comprehensive control over nicotine preparations or gels containing nicotine in e-cigarettes or vapes”.
Khairy said the bill should be tabled as soon as possible to deal with the existing loophole, for the sake of public health.
In a gazette notice published yesterday, the health ministry said exemption from poisons control had been granted for nicotine liquids and gels, used in e-cigarettes and vape products.
The exemption clears the way for over-the-counter sales of the two nicotine products as well as nicotine patches used to stop smoking. Without the exemption, products containing nicotine could only be obtained on prescription from doctors or pharmacies.
The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control accused Zaliha of using her ministerial powers to overrule the Poisons Board, which voted against exempting the substances from the Poisons Act.