At Malaysian e-cigarette outlet Vape Empire, customers kick back and puff out thick, aromatic clouds of vapor in funky flavors like “Horny Mango” and “Creamy Suckerz’ Banana Anna.”
“Vaping” is soaring in popularity in Malaysia, the largest e-cigarette market in the Asia-Pacific region, but authorities are threatening to ban the habit for health reasons — a move that has sparked anger from growing legions of aficionados.
Backing a ban, Malaysian religious leaders this month declared a fatwa on the “un-Islamic” habit, but it remains to be seen whether the decree will dampen enthusiasm.
“The business is growing very fast because there are many people trying to convert from tobacco smoking to vaping,” Vape Empire co-founder Muhammad Sharifuddin Esa said, adding that his firm has expanded to 57 locations since opening two years ago.
The pastime has proved a particular hit in the moderate, Muslim-majority nation, where other vices such as alcohol and drugs are especially frowned upon.
Now several Malaysian states say they may impose a ban and have threatened to stop issuing new merchants’ licences — a potential blow to a sector worth an estimated 2.8 billion ringgit (US$650 million) last year, according to reports.
The industry, which is expected to grow by more than 13 percent year-on-year to 2025, is currently unregulated, and many say forbidding e-cigarettes — already outlawed in Thailand and Singapore for health reasons — is a big mistake.
“The government must regulate and not ban, because vaping is the future,” Sharifuddin said.
Research on health risks remains split and like Malaysia, few countries have introduced national legislation to regulate the sector. The devices function by heating flavoured nicotine liquid — or e-juice — into a vapor that is inhaled, much like traditional cigarettes, but without the smoke.
Some experts warn vaping can produce cancer-causing formaldehyde, and one US study said it is up to 15 times more harmful than traditional tobacco smoking.
However, other research suggests vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes and manufacturers tout them as harmless aids to quit tobacco.
Enthusiasts in Malaysia say banning the habit does not make economic sense.
“Vaping communities are fighting for their rights because the vape scene actually brings profits to the country,” said Muhammad Imman, marketing manager of the colorfully named Fcuking Flava vape shop, one of thousands that have popped up across the country.
Marketers cater to local tastes, selling e-juice flavored with snake fruit, lychee and even durian, the notoriously pungent Southeast Asian fruit. The juices are marketed like single-malt whiskies or perfumes, as seen at a recent vaping convention in Kuala Lumpur, their creators extolling organic and other premium ingredients.
Aficionados gather daily in Malaysia’s vape shops, sometimes for “cloud chasing” competitions to see who can produce the biggest vapor puffs and to show off vape prowess by blowing rings into the foggy air.
Some agree there is a greater need for quality control to keep dodgy DIY e-juice from entering the market and to ensure e-cigarette devices are not used for smoking drugs like marijuana.
A growing number of amateur merchants have emerged across the country, where about 1 million people smoke e-cigarettes, a five-fold surge since last year, according to the Malaysia E-Vaporizers and Tobacco Alternative Association (MEVTA) activist group.
Making e-juice is a simple process that involves mixing readily available ingredients — water, flavouring, nicotine and other easy-to-access chemical compounds.
On a Kuala Lumpur street recently, a vendor set up a table arrayed with a range of flavors, from guava to lychee, on sale for about 30 ringgit.
“Mine are the best,” he boasted to passing office workers.
However, some bottles looked old and reused, and he was tight-lipped on the e-juice’s origin.
Other, more mainstream, Malaysian manufacturers have struck deals to distribute their goods elsewhere in Asia and as far afield as Europe, as Malaysian flavors become popular overseas.
The habit does not appear to be losing steam at home, especially among former smokers.
“I actually have reduced the level of nicotine when I vape,” officer worker Nicolas Chan said, speaking between puffs on his lunch break. “I feel better and have more energy after quitting cigarettes and starting to vape.”
Softbank Group Corp plans to keep a stake in the chip designer Arm Ltd, even if it sells a partial interest to Nvidia Corp, the Nikkei reported. The companies are negotiating terms, the newspaper reported, citing sources. Softbank might take a stake in Nvidia after it buys Arm, the report said. Nvidia and Arm might also merge through a share swap, and Softbank would become a major shareholder in the combined company, it said. The two parties aim to reach a deal in the next few weeks, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Nvidia is the
END TO SPECULATION: The hotel’s management contract has been extended, despite reports that it wanted to end its alliance with Hyatt Hotels over a deal with Riant Capital Singapore-based Hong Leong Hotel Development Ltd (豐隆大飯店股份) yesterday said it has extended a management contract to ensure the continued presence of the Grand Hyatt brand in Taipei, ending rumors that the two sides were parting ways. “We are pleased Hyatt is able to come to terms on the extension of the management contract of Grand Hyatt Taipei,” said Kwek Leng Beng (郭令明), executive chairman of City Developments Ltd (城市發展) and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Ltd (千禧國敦酒店). Hong Leong Hotel Development is a subsidiary of Millennium, and both fall under the Hong Leong Group (豐隆集團). The Grand Hyatt Taipei (台北君悅大飯店), owned and built by
Gold surged to a fresh record on Friday, fueled by US dollar weakness and low interest rates, while silver headed for its best month since 1979. Spot bullion is up more than 10 percent this month, as US real yields lingered near record lows. While the ferocity of rallies in gold and silver cooled in the middle of the week, most market watchers predict there might be more gains ahead. Both metals have added about 30 percent this year, with gold and silver exchange-traded funds boosting holdings to a record, as concern about the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic fuels demand for
MOVING FROM CHINA? The article did not name the company, but Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron were among firms chosen for a production-linked incentive plan in India An Apple Inc vendor is looking at shifting six production lines to India from China, which could result in US$5 billion of iPhone exports from the South Asian nation, the Times of India reported, citing people familiar with the matter who it did not identify. The establishment of the facility would create about 55,000 jobs over about a year, the newspaper reported, not naming the Apple vendor. It would also cater to the domestic market and expand operations to include tablets and laptops, the newspaper reported. Samsung Electronics Co and Apple’s assembly partners are among 22 companies that have pledged 110 billion