[This is a sponsored article with LOST MARY.]
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022, the prevalence of youth using e-cigarettes or vape products rose from 9.8% in 2017 to 14.9% in 2022, marking a notable increase over five years.
This trend raises concerns for adolescents and the nation, given that the estimated cost of treating E-cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) disease is RM150,000 per patient. The Ministry of Health (MOH) anticipates an annual increase in this cost to be RM369 million by 2030.
To address these concerns, the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 was passed in the Dewan Negara on December 14, 2023, following its approval in the Dewan Rakyat on November 30.
The bill imposes a ban on selling tobacco and vape products to minors under 18.
Following the bill’s passage, the disposable vape brand, LOST MARY, announced its expansion in Malaysia.
LOST MARY’s Malaysian Country Manager, Carlson Leong, and Director of Global Communications, Jacques Li, acknowledged the bill and the need for effective regulation.
They stated their commitment to complying with regulations in various global markets and recognised the role that vaping products play in assisting smokers in quitting.
As part of LOST MARY’s expansion plans for Malaysia, the team will be working closely with local partners to adjust its business accordingly.
The bill’s approval brings Malaysia in line with global counterparts such as Australia, the UK, Thailand, and Singapore, who each have dedicated legislation on tobacco and vaping. Out of the markets listed, LOST MARY is operational in the UK and began its journey there as well.
Once the bill is signed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and gazetted, regulations and restrictions on vape and e-cigarette packaging, advertising, marketing, distribution, and sales to children and teenagers can be imposed.
To adhere to packaging-related regulations, LOST MARY will not market its products using cartoons, cartoon imagery, anime, or other similar designs that may appeal to children and teenagers.
In terms of marketing, the brand will avoid sponsoring events and collaborating with channels that may access the underaged.
Speaking about e-liquid flavours that may attract underaged users, LOST MARY is scheduled to rename several flavour descriptors in the global markets.
“This action takes time and we will continue our efforts in other markets including Malaysia to protect minors,” added Carlson and Jacques.
Vaping as a tool for smoking cessation
According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), the smoking rate in Malaysia has decreased from almost 25% in 2010 to 21% in 2020.
The WHO attributes this trend to the rising popularity of vaping, with more smokers reportedly transitioning to e-cigarette products due to factors like affordability and accessibility.
It’s important to note that while research suggests that vaping can be safer than conventional cigarettes, it is not completely harmless. The product is mainly recommended for adult smokers to support quitting smoking and staying quit.
LOST MARY acknowledged this, and intends to bring more awareness to the adult public on vapes being utilised as a smoking cessation tool.
The team plans to carry out educational initiatives that focus on topics like the brand’s presence in the market, its product technology, and smoking cessation.
“We believe this brand was born to reduce harm instead of generating more harm,” claimed Carlson and Jacques.
Protecting distribution channels
The increasing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping products has also brought attention to the emerging issue of counterfeit products, which are becoming more rampant in Malaysia.
Poorly manufactured components and substandard materials in such products pose notable hazards to consumers that have reportedly led to central nervous system and heart issues.
These items might also include substances that could pose a risk of further harm or potential death to the user.
“All vaping products need to be registered with stricter regulations, as this rule can help reduce the occurrence of counterfeits,” said LOST MARY’s team.
To reduce the risk of customers purchasing fake products, the brand provides unique QR codes for buyers to verify a product’s authenticity on LOST MARY’s official website. Consumers and vendors of vape products should also be vigilant in ensuring that the product has been licensed by SIRIM QAS, Malaysia’s leading certification, inspection, and testing body.
Moreover, LOST MARY has partnered with regulators in different markets to crack down on counterfeit manufacturers, claiming to have shut down at least 200 of them.
Ultimately, LOST MARY stated that the mission to protect the youth from the negative effects of vaping is a shared responsibility for the government, family, community, authority and all the stakeholders involved in this industry.
As the team summed up, “Having new laws is less of an ultimate goal than having all industry players comply.”
Featured Image Credit: [Left] LOST MARY MO10000 / [Right] LOST MARY CD