Malaysia will be legalized and taxed, Egypt repeals sales ban, Thailand explores legalization of sales.
October 30th News, more and more countries have joined the list of e-cigarettes to lift the ban and gradually rethink the regulatory policy of e-cigarettes. Recently, two countries lifted the ban on e-cigarettes. Another country is exploring the legalization of e-cigarette sales.
In the basic perception of electronic cigarettes, we should first have a consensus before discussing the rest.
E-cigarettes are not risk-free, nor are they harmless products, but harm-reducing products.
Expert reviews from the UK and the US suggest that regulated e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking.
British officials released a statement to recommend e-cigarettes as a medical smoking cessation product for people who want to quit smoking. Not only to recognize the role of e-cigarettes to quit smoking but also the actual implementation of medical policy to support the use of e-cigarettes from the government level, and the government will pay for users who use prescription e-cigarettes.
The fact that e-cigarettes licensed for medicinal use in the UK must pass more stringent safety checks also speaks volumes about how reasonable and effective regulation is more sensible and practical than one-size-fits-all.
Today, let’s take a look at how three countries – Egypt, Malaysia, and Thailand – have been operating recently in terms of e-cigarette policy.
Egypt: repeals ban on e-cigarette sales, imports, and marketing
On 25th October, Egypt last month repealed a ban on the sale, import, and marketing of e-cigarettes that had been in place since 2015, as reported by Cross Border Ecommerce Middle East.
This decision will undoubtedly pave the way for proper regulations to curb the illegal trade in e-cigarette devices, which will help eliminate the growing crisis within Egypt due to this illicit trade.
Egypt is now aligned with global and Middle Eastern markets, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, which have all legalized the marketing and consumption of e-cigarettes.
In addition, with the lifting of the ban comes the implementation of more relevant laws, higher production standards, and strict controls to ensure quality, health, and safety. Adult smokers will access the most elevated quality alternatives to traditional cigarettes for a better user experience.
The decision to lift the ban has been well received by e-cigarette manufacturers and consumers alike. Encouraging SMEs will significantly benefit Egypt’s overall investment climate and manufacturers to invest, open new stores, and import rechargeable e-cigarette devices and tools into the market, thereby creating new jobs.
Malaysia: Nicotine e-cigarettes to be legalized and taxed
On 29th October, Malaysia plans to tax nicotine-containing e-cigarette oils, marking the beginning of regulation rather than a ban on e-cigarettes in the country.
Media commentary said that one of the world’s largest e-cigarette markets would finally legalize nicotine when the Malaysian government formalizes its plans to regulate and tax e-cigarette products.
Currently, consumer products containing nicotine are illegal in Malaysia. The relevant sales are regulated by the Poisons Act and the Sale of Medicines Act, in which substances containing nicotine can only be sold by licensed pharmacists and registered doctors for medical use.
Today, several Malaysian news outlets reported that the government had imposed an excise tax on nicotine-containing e-cigarette oil in its 2022 budget proposal.
Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz announced the decision.
Malaysian Health Minister Kerry Jamaluddin recently told the World Health Organization that Malaysia would soon regulate e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems to prevent teenagers from using them.
According to the Malaysian Ministry of Health’s 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey, the prevalence of current smokers in Malaysia fell by 1.5 percentage points to 21.3 percent in 2019, corresponding to an increase in e-cigarette use. However, it is unclear whether the decline in smokers is caused by a shift to e-cigarettes or e-cigarette products.
The decision was confirmed in a tweet by the Asia Pacific Alliance of Harm Reduction Advocates, congratulating Malaysian e-cigarette advocates for their hard work to overcome the problem.
Malaysia has long enjoyed a large and thriving e-cigarette market, one of the largest in the world. Despite occasional large-scale police raids and seizures of products suspected of containing nicotine, the government’s enforcement of the law has been uneven.
E-cigarette bans are common in Southeast Asia, but Malaysia will be the rare exception.
Thailand: Exploring Ways to Legalize E-Cigarette Sales
On 6th, October, Thai Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Tanakamanusorn said he is exploring ways to legalize e-cigarette sales despite solid opposition from health activists and anti-smoking campaigners.
He said at least 67 countries worldwide had approved e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative to smoking, while Thailand still refuses to accept them. The minister said he believes e-cigarettes could be a safer option for those struggling to quit smoking, adding at least 10 million smokers in the country.
More importantly, he said, both the Tobacco Authority of Thailand and tobacco growers would benefit if it were possible to turn Thai-grown tobacco into e-cigarette products and export them.
But AM Anutara Jittinand, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand, objected, arguing that e-cigarette manufacturers do not provide complete information about their products. They only say that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking but not stop when they become addicted.
UK e-cigarette users share their stories of quitting
Neil Bradley, a 63-year-old British user, recently told The Guardian that after using e-cigarettes for some time, one could slowly quit nicotine by using a less concentrated e-liquid until one does not use it at all.
Himal, another user who successfully quit using e-cigarettes, agreed that e-cigarettes should be seen as a gradual reduction measure rather than a lifelong substitute for cigarettes, i.e., a shift from one dependence to another.
The road is long, and time and transparency of information will eventually overcome prejudice.