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Vape Raids: 300 Malaysian Stores Shut Down

Owners of vape stores in Malaysia were caught by surprise last week as the Health Ministry carried out vape raids on more than 300 stores. This comes as a huge shock to many, as the Cabinet previously rejected a ban on vaping.

Remember, remember! The Fifth of November

Malaysia’s Health Ministry began the vape raids on Thursday November, 5th. Do you believe it’s coincidence that this happened to fall on what is known as Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Night? Perhaps I am overanalyzing, as I am prone to do, but with the recent “UFO” sighting in California I have become captivated by conspiracies.

In a move to discourage Malaysians from vaping, the Health Ministry declared it would confiscate nicotine found in all e-cigs from all vendors across the country. But how could this be? On October 30th, the Rural and Regional Development Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, posted this statement to his Facebook page

“Good news for vapers, vape brewers and vape salesmen. Today, the Cabinet has decided not to ban vaping. Thank you to the Prime Minister and Government who understands the aspirations of the youth.”

It didn’t take long for the rumors to turn into a nationwide raid. Vapers and shop owners were quick to take to social media. The alarm was sounded as early as possible with hope that businesses would be able to save their inventory from being confiscated. Over 300 shops were raided. Some lost a few items, while others were cleaned out of just about everything they had. Reddit user, mrpunman, posted these images of masked workers from the Health Ministry filling large plastic bags with e-juice to be taken away.

The ministry claimed the right to seize e-juice in order to check on the nicotine content of products being sold. This move was said to have been done in consideration for public health. If it’s the nicotine they’re after, then why is smoking cigarettes still allowed, if not seen as the “normal” thing to do? Over 40% of adult men in Malaysia smoke. That’s about 4.7 million adult smokers, and almost half the population of all men in the country! However, almost no women smoke in Malaysia. In fact, less than 1% of women smoke in Malaysia! What’s up with that?

Of course, the ministry has denied all claims of any involvement from Big Tobacco.  I find it hard to trust that statement. It is believed that there are over a million people in Malaysia who vape, and the industry there is the second largest in the world, after the United States. With a government who already loses an estimated 2 billion in tax revenue to illegal cigarette trade, and the history of Big Tobacco scare-mongering policy makers, it makes sense that the government feels threatened by the booming vape industry.

With help from the recent passing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the tobacco industry can now urge the government to adopt its solutions in order to “promote facilitates trade and investment.” Basically, the government has become subservient to the tobacco industry’s commercial pursuits.

Electronic cigarettes are already completely banned in Singapore, and plans are in place to get rid of other smokeless tobacco products like nasal and oral snuff, as well as products like Gutka. This might sound like a move to benefit public health, but when these products are banned or taken off the market, what is left? Nothing but cigarettes. Is this really a health issue? Or is it a money issue? It seems to me like the tobacco industry has a lot to gain here when it comes to all of these vape raids.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the federal minister for Youth and Sports, and the president of the youth wing of the United Malays National Organization is calling for an end to the raids, and sites the need for the industry to be regulated. Khairy said that if the authorities want to confiscate e-juice that proper discussions should be held first. He has also called on the government to be consistent in its stance and ban cigarettes as well.

I believe these vape raids have a deeper consequence than people think. All of these businesses have made huge investments, and now, almost all of their stock is confiscated. Until proper rules and regulations are instated, the government can not legally stop these shops from running. But there’s nothing to say that they won’t keep confiscating e-juice and conducting raids. We know that vapers come from all walks of life. Some of these shop owners were young entrepreneurs, others have families to care for and mouths to feed. All of these people have bills to pay and ends to meet. Now, their livelihood has been forcefully taken from them.

A license is now required to sell any electronic cigarette product that contains nicotine. In Malaysia, e-juice can now only be sold by licensed pharmacists and registered medical practitioners. Any unauthorized sale of nicotine is a punishable offense.

Opening a business is no small feat. With such huge investments made, and no product to turn profits and thus pay the bills, the Malaysian government has not just conducted raids on vape shops. They have deliberately launched an attack on their own citizens. The consequences and effects of these vape raids will be felt for a long time as jobs are being eliminated and money is taken directly out of the pockets of Malaysian citizens.

The right to vape is also being threatened here at home. FDA regulation could kill vaping as we know it. We encourage vapers across the globe to speak out against such harsh vaping legislation in their own country. When one nation loses the right to vape, the entire vaping community suffers a loss. Now is the time to stand up and fight for your right to vape.

Tim Mechling
 

Tim is Mt Baker Vapor's resident creative weirdo. He writes, composes music, draws, designs, produces podcasts, investigates, and blows the trumpet for the Common Man.

  • Pete Geller says:

    No surprise. Big Tobacco doesn’t like vapers. Big Tobacco is MONEY…. I believe in civil disobedience only as long as they will allow me to be civil…

    • John Swanke says:

      With Malaysia being one of the biggest vape markets in the world (2nd only to the USA) it’s no doubt that BT was feeling a hit in their wallet. It’s a real challenge to sit here and remain civil when things like this are happening in the world. Wish there was something I could do for all these hard working folks who have been hit by this.

  • du2vye says:

    This is sad. I wonder if some discreet care pkgs could get through.

  • Mark says:

    Big tobacco has their money grubbing paws into everything. Its no wonder that Malaysia’s government now kowtows to big tobacco. Pretty soon big tobacco will be THE government in one of these countries in Indonesia. Wouldn’t be surprised if and when big tobacco starts in on the vape shops, and those who manufacture any and everything vape related. I could see raids here in the states as well, from the police depts who are in the pockets of big tobacco.
    As retired law enforcement it makes me sick that cops and some depts will bow to corporations who may influence department policy. Maybe in the form of tactical gear, other gear and tools for use in law enforcement.
    Hopefully Malaysia and its government will come to their senses and allow the shop owners to sell any and all things vape related. I mean a licensed pharmacist or a registered medical practitioners….REALLY! So now you have to have a medical degree to be able to sell e juice! Give me a break…its total BS and big tobacco probably has something over the government, or has someone of influence in the government in their pocket telling him/her to do this that and the other…or you won’t get your payment of #10K this month. Or whatever it is they’re paying now, just so some fat cat can get his monthly stipend. Who cares if we screw over the population in the process, who cares if we take money out of the wallets of our hard working citizen, so what if a family can’t meet their bills wind up homeless, as long a I get mine. I’m tired, tired of all the bullshit that big tobacco or any large corporation of the ways they can lord of us small guys basically the power of life and death. I am a 100% disabled veteran, and I get this all the time, I started vaping to get away from dippin snuff. After 45 years I knew dipin was gonna catch up to me sooner or later. I know that if I stopped vaping I would/could go back to dippin with no trouble at all. Vaping is keeping me healthy, its keeping me from dippin or smoking, so now; vaping is my lifestyle, you mess with my lifestyle, you mess with my lifestyle you mess with me. You really don’t want this 58 year old disabled veteran pissed off at you, I might be disabled but I still have a lot of fight left in me.
    This wont happen though, we keep telling ourselves this as a way of denial. Stop and think, even if the FDA says its OK vape your lungs out, its all good. What’s to stop or who’s to stop big tobacco from grabbing one of their influential flunkies in the government and saying…hey..we don’t like this shit, put a stop to it….NOW or you $50K payment won’t happen this month.
    Sorry for the rant, this kinda crap really pisses me off, be well, stay safe, God bless….VAPE ON!

    • John Swanke says:

      Thanks for this passionate statement! It’s so great to see people get fired up over vaping rights. Makes me realize we are not alone in this fight! Cheers to you sir, and vape on!

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