Malaysia is no stranger to vaping. In fact, Malaysia is the world’s largest exporter of vape liquids, with the vape industry worth RM 2.7 billion.
It only makes sense that the Malaysian government would introduce a vape tax on vape devices and e-cigarettes – and that’s exactly what has happened. As a result of this decision, it’ll open the doors for what will be an even larger nicotine vaping market.
In this post, we’ll discuss what the vape tax in Malaysia is and the various implications moving forward.
Malaysia’s Shocking Vape Product Exemption
Malaysia legalized vaping by exempting nicotine liquids and gels from the poisons list starting on April 1, 2023. This allows them to be sold on the open market and taxed.
The decision to remove nicotine from the Poisons Act stirred quite a bit of controversy, particularly following a meeting of the Poisons Board, which had initially rejected allowing consumer nicotine sales.
Previously, nicotine in any form was available only by prescription for medical purposes. The move faced opposition from tobacco control activists who sought to maintain the ban on consumer nicotine products.
However, it also means that these products, such as e-cigarettes and vape liquids, are no longer regulated as dangerous or harmful to health under the law.
Implications of New Nicotine E-Liquid Tax
Alongside this exemption, the government also imposed an excise duty on nicotine-containing vape products, which means that these products are now subject to taxation. The tax rate is RM0.40 (approximately US$0.091) per millilitre on vape liquids or gels with nicotine content. This move opened the doors for a large legal nicotine vaping market in the country, as it effectively legalized vaping by exempting nicotine liquids and gels from the list of controlled substances under the Poisons Act 1952. What does this mean? These products can be sold openly in the market and are subject to taxation.
The primary purpose of the excise duty is to generate revenue for the government. The tax on nicotine-containing e-liquids is expected to contribute to government funds, with an estimated potential revenue of RM2 billion. Half of this revenue will be allocated to the Health Ministry.
However, no comprehensive law is currently in place to regulate vaping products, their advertising, or the market. This lack of regulation has raised concerns, as vaping is now largely unregulated, and there are fears that even young people and children could access these products legally. The lack of specific laws against vaping, especially when it comes to sales to minors, can be a big problem.
Is the Excise Duty Curbing Youth Vaping?
The Excise Duty, the tax on vaping products, has the potential to be effective in curbing youth vaping. This is because when the price of vapes goes up due to the tax, it becomes less affordable for young people.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim emphasized that instead of implementing an outright ban, they will use taxation as a measure to discourage vaping and smoking.
Some experts think that vaping can discourage heavy smokers, especially younger ones, from continuing or starting this habit when vaping is more expensive. The idea is that if vapes cost a lot, it may make adolescents think twice before buying them.
Of course, this is a highly controversial topic, and only time will tell if the excise duty is enough to curb youth vaping.
Addressing Enforcement Challenges and Healthcare Concerns
The recent exemption and taxation of vaping products have raised significant concerns, particularly in terms of enforcement and healthcare. For one, enforcing regulations surrounding vaping liquids will likely come with its own set of obstacles.
Notably, only nicotine-containing liquids and gels are subject to taxation, while non-nicotine products remain unregulated. Also, distinguishing between nicotine and non-nicotine vape products on the spot poses challenges for enforcement officers.
There are concerns about the long-term health effects of the chemicals found in e-liquids and the potential risks associated with vaping-related health conditions.
Some medical professionals and anti-tobacco activists argue that legalizing vaping and nicotine products could potentially undermine decades of public health efforts to curb smoking-related diseases and preventable deaths.
Malaysian authorities have faced calls to reinstate nicotine on the Poisons List until comprehensive regulations are in place. This move has ignited discussions about the government’s commitment to safeguarding public health, particularly among future generations. The vaping landscape in Malaysia is evolving, and its ultimate impact on public health and the industry remains to be seen.
The decision to remove liquid nicotine from the Poisons List has raised health concerns. The move has faced opposition from healthcare professionals and associations concerned about the potential public health risks and the accessibility of nicotine-containing vape products – especially in the hands of young people.
Critics argue that the harm of allowing e-cigarettes and vape products to be sold to anyone, including children, outweighs the potential benefit of tax revenue. Nicotine is considered a highly addictive substance, and the lack of regulation may lead to its accessibility by minors.
Malaysia currently lacks a comprehensive regulatory framework for e-cigarettes and vaping products. The Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, which seeks to regulate these products, has yet to be tabled in parliament. This means there are currently no specific regulations to govern the sale, marketing, or use of these products.
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Malaysia understands the massive potential in revenue that vapes bring to the economy. However, it’s important to stay informed about these developments.
For now, Malaysia is open to vape products and still remains one of the leaders in the vape market.
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