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.