The government in Malaysia recently made a controversial move regarding some key ingredients that go into making vapes that have effectively eliminated the age limit on vaping in the country.
It’s a legal loophole for now, but that means people of all ages, naturally, are exploiting it. Much controversy has arisen surrounding the new legal situation around vaping in Malaysia, but if you need a primer on what happened, why, and what that means for a vaping age limit in Malaysia, look no further than the following guide.
What Recent Changes Have Been Made to Malaysia’s Vaping Regulations?
Back in April, the current government in Malaysia under Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim officially removed two key ingredients that go into vapes from the official list of poisons, put together and managed by the Poison Board. Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa went against the express protests of the Poison Board to make the move, using her ministerial authority to override their objections.
Before liquid and gel nicotine were removed from the official poisons list, the government had considered an outright ban on all vape products back in 2019. This would have thrown the country’s vapers and smokers alike into disarray, prompting questions from what tobacco products are legal to buy to whether or not you bring a vape on a plane.
With this new legal shift, however, individuals under 18 are now fully free to buy vapes and vape products.
Why Has Vaping Been Legalized for Minors in Malaysia?
Vaping wasn’t outright legalised by the government of Malaysia. Rather, the government removed key ingredients used to manufacture vapes from the official poisons list, meaning the prohibition on the sale of vapes to those under 18 has been (temporarily) lifted.
Debate still rages in the country over whether vaping is better than smoking, and the new legal change has some worrying that the country now sits between a rock and a hard place: youth vape use is going up on one side and youth traditional cigarette use is going up on the other.
What Are the Implications of These Changes on Youth and Public Health?
The impact of these changes in the way vapes are made and sold could be enormous on Malaysia’s youth. Advocates for stricter enforcement on the sale of vapes argue that this new loophole sets a dangerous precedent for youth vape use.
Without the prior restrictions on vape sales and use in place, young people are free to use flavourful, brightly coloured vapes as much as they want. That could lead to early dependency and other health issues. On the other hand, if harsher restrictions are set, however, some worry that the youth of the country could swing to the other side and overuse illegally procured tobacco cigarettes.
How Does Malaysia’s Stance Compare to Other Countries?
Malaysia currently has a loophole that makes vape use essentially legal – for all ages.
Other countries that have similarly lax laws include Guatemala, Kenya, and the Dominican Republic. Slovenia also has lax laws in that vapes are sold but must contain health warnings on the packaging. Canada allows the sale of vapes at 18 years old, and the United Kingdom is progressive regarding vapes as well.
Countries in which the use and sale of vapes is outright illegal include Brazil, Argentina, India, Mexico, and Thailand, where you can face a five-year prison sentence for vaping.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Legal Age for Vaping in Malaysia?
Technically, the legal age for vaping remains 18. However, due to legal restrictions on selling vape products being rolled back (as a result of liquid and gel nicotine being taken off the official poisons list), the youth of Malaysia exist in a loophole in which vapes are completely legal to buy and use.
What Happens if You Are Caught Vaping Under 18 in Malaysia?
Currently, you will not be penalised if you are under 18 and caught using a vape in Malaysia. However, the government is looking to pass a long-gestating law called Malaysia’s Tobacco Product and Smoking Control Bill 2022. If that passes, vapes will be illegal to buy, and using one could land you a hefty fine.
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