KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia is planning to introduce strict regulations on the sale and use of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers, health officials said on Tuesday, as countries around the world move to ban devices that are related to death and addiction to young people.
India, which has the world's second-largest adult smoking population, banned the sale of electronic cigarettes last month by warning of a steamy "epidemic" among young people. US public health authorities have recommended the use of electronic cigarettes after 12 deaths and 805 cases of diseases related to electronic cigarette use have been reported.
The global electronic cigarette market was worth $ 15.7 billion by 2018, according to Euromonitor International data, and is projected to more than double to $ 40 billion by 2023.
Malaysia wants to baptize electronic cigarettes and vaporizers along with tobacco products under a single law that would prohibit promotions and advertising, use in public areas and use by minors, the Ministry of Health said.
"More and more studies show that vape / electronic cigarettes … are still harmful to human health. In addition, vapes / electronic cigarettes have not been proven to be an effective way to stop smoking," he said in an email.
The ministry said the recent wave of deaths and diseases related to electronic cigarette use in the United States added urgency to Malaysia's review of its policies.
It is estimated that 5 million Malays aged 15 and over are smokers out of a total population of about 32 million, according to the latest national health and morbidity survey conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2015.
The final draft of the new Tobacco Control and Smoking Law has been finalized and sent to the attorney general for a final review, the ministry said.
"We really hope the new law will be introduced in parliament next year," the ministry's email said.
Tobacco products in Malaysia are currently regulated by the Food Act, but there are no specific regulations governing the sale and use of vaporizers and electronic cigarettes.
However, there has been a ban on nicotine-containing vaporizers since November 2015.
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The fast-growing vaping industry in the world has faced growing public reaction over concerns about increasing youth use.
In a letter sent to the US Food and Drug Administration last month, a bipartisan group of US senators called for an immediate ban on pod-based e-cigarettes, which they say are favored by young people, even that products can be proven to be safe.
India's national ban, the world's first, would cut a huge future market for electronic cigarette makers such as Juul Labs and Philip Morris International, which have plans to expand their operations there.
(Report by Joseph Sipalan)