Malaysia Health Ministry Orders Raids on Vape Shops Nationwide

For people living in Malaysia, a nation steeped in the traditions of Islam, it’s not easy to indulge in guilty pleasures. Alcohol and premarital sex are considered taboo and religious beliefs squash most interest in drugs. Instead, people turn primarily to food and tobacco, two thriving markets that have generated major interest and huge revenue in the past few years. Now, Malaysian adults are combining their two favorite vices through vaping.

Eliquids come in flavors reminiscent of all of their favorite foods, plus smokers can still get a nice hit of nicotine without the worries of tobacco. In recent months, Malaysia’s vaping industry has boomed to unforeseen proportions. People can’t get enough of the locally brewed eliquid flavors like lychee, jasmine tea, and “sirap bandung”, a popular drink made from rose water and condensed milk.

Zachary Oh, CEO of Vape Empire Malaysia, said the eliquid industry is rapidly evolving. “It’s not brewed in someone’s backyard,” he explained. “Yes, four or five years ago, you had people brewing in kitchens.” But that is now changing with many companies investing thousands of dollars in huge facilities and vapor labs. “They’re challenging themselves to come up with new flavors that people can relate to,” Oh said.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled with the burgeoning vape culture. Religious authorities have declared that vaping is “haram”, strictly forbidden for Muslims. Since Islamic leadership largely controls the government, proposals to ban vaping have been repeatedly floated through Parliament. So far, no bans have been officially accepted. But that isn’t stopped the Health Ministry from working hard to stop vape shops.

Recently, vape shops across the country have started reporting raids where officials confiscate their products and essentially leave their businesses inoperable. The Health Ministry claims that the raids are needed to monitor the nicotine levels in eliquids. They justify the raids because the vape shops do not have a license to sell eliquids, although such licenses do not currently exist. One store owner said his shop was raided and officials confiscated over 3,000 bottles of eliquid worth $32,000.

Deputy health director-general Lokman Hakim announced this week that the raids would be intensified in a campaign to eliminate vaping in Malaysia. “The ministry’s message to the community is do not use e-cigarettes or vaping, as it is harmful to your health in the long-term,” he said.

Of course, officials have provided no actual evidence that vaping is harmful and they refuse to consider numerous scientific studies that prove otherwise. This is just one more example of how the world has an upside down perspective on vaping. A device designed to helped smokers quit is outlawed while tobacco use is legalized and ignored. Why do you think the Malaysian government is taking such a strong stance against vaping?

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