Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 2

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tobaccoasia 41 maceutical license is needed. The catch? Well, as of yet, no such licenses have been issued. This fact alone makes e-cigarettes il- legal in Taiwan – at least in theory. But due to that ambiguous legislation, the authorities are faced with another conundrum: in February 2014, the local China Post quoted Chiang Yu-mei, di- rector-general of Taiwan's FDA, as saying that there is no legal basis on which to punish people who sell electronic cigarettes or produce second-hand smoke with e-cigarettes. Although it had been established that most e-cigarettes dis- pense or contain nicotine, Taiwan's Tobacco Hazards Preven- tion Act could not be applied to e-cigarettes since no actual to- bacco is involved, he explained. "Therefore, no punishment can be issued if someone smokes e-cigarettes in smoking-prohibited areas," said Chiang Yu-mei. Let's recap: E-smoking devices are technically illegal in Taiwan when they are not licensed, but trad- ers selling them and consumers using them cannot be punished due to a legal loophole. Confused? So is Taiwan. Japan: No Nicotine, Please! Venturing north, we arrive in Japan. The country freely allows import, sale, and use of e-smoking equipment and accessories as long as they don't dispense or contain nicotine. However, an appropriate license must still be obtained. Hence, e-cigarettes with nicotine are completely banned because they are classed as unlicensed medical products – and licensing anytime soon un- der Japan's pharmaceuticals control law appears highly unlikely. Instead, a further tightening of existing regulations is perhaps already in the making. In May 2015, the official Kyodo news agency reported on a health ministry research group which said that four of the nine e-cigarette brands that can currently be legally sold in Japan (because they do not dispense or contain nicotine) produce vapor with high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. "A panel at the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry that received [the] research report said negative health effects cannot be ruled out from the use of e-cigarettes. The ministry is expected to study the feasibility of tightening regula- tions," Kyodo reported. Korea, the Most Liberal Kid on the Block Returning to the mainland, in South Korea the sale, manufac- ture, import, export, and use of electronic cigarettes is entirely legal. This makes the country the most liberal of our entire line- up. But such freedom comes at a price – literally. Electronic smoking devices as well as accessories are classified as tobacco products, whether they actually dispense or contain nicotine or not, and are thus subject to Korea's tobacco control legislation. Tobacco taxes, and therefore retail prices, are exorbitantly high, making the country one of the most expensive places around the globe to enjoy a smoke, regardless whether regular or electronic Malaysia: Yes, It's Legal, But… Relative e-smoking freedom could until recently also be found in Malaysia. While the country considers e-cigarettes as medi- cal devices and e-liquid cartridges or refills containing nicotine as medicinal products, they were available nationwide over pharmacy counters and from specialized shops, provided the respective product was appropriately licensed. Until last year, Malaysia had successfully resisted following in the footsteps of its neighbors Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand to impose a de-facto ban. In fact, in August 2015, the local The Star news- paper quoted Dr. Abdul Razak Muttalif, director of the National Institute of Respiratory Medicine, as saying that while authori- ties were "aware that some people have misused the devices to do drugs, there are no plans for the government to ban vaping. There are many e-cig users who say that these devices are help- ful for them to quit smoking." Referring to a 2013 Ministry of Health study on the side effects of e-cigarettes, the director said: "The Health Ministry wants to regulate e-cigs but there's a need to look at various other studies and see what the global commu- nity is doing. We cannot be rash." But here is the bad news: Ma- laysia is a federation of 13 semi-autonomous states with powers to enact their own legislation in certain areas. Despite Dr. Mut- talif's assertions, the federal states of Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Johor, and Kelantan all have imposed total bans on e-smoking since January 1, 2016. The Philippines: Regulations? What Regulations? In the Philippines, the sale of e-cigarettes remains entirely un- regulated, which makes the devices freely available to children and teenagers. However, The Philippine Medical Association last year issued a recommendation to city administrations across the country to expand their smoking bans for public places and on transportation to also include e-cigarettes. Furthermore, legisla- tive measures seem to be underway to regulate the sale and use of ENDS. On April 10, 2016, the Philippines' FDA issued an advi- sory, which said that the electronic cigarette is not a proven nico- tine replacement therapy, and the authority reiterated the WHO's statement that there is no scientific evidence to confirm the product's safety and efficacy. Approximately one week after the statement, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) urged local government units to enact ordinances regulating the sale and use of e-cigarettes in their respective localities. Towards the end of the same month, the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) – composed of store owners, suppliers, and manufacturers of electronic cigarettes and related products – was formed and is anticipated to also work towards clearer regulation. *Disclaimer: While TOBACCO ASIA took every care in compiling current information from available sources on the status of e-smoking legis- lation in the countries featured in this article, we reject any responsibility for possible errors, omissions, misinterpretations, and/or inaccuracies.

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