Police stormed hundreds of Malaysian vape shops Monday, seizing all e-liquid containing nicotine and records of wholesale purchases. The raids were apparently carried out simultaneously, beginning at 3:00 p.m. Malaysian time, according to The Vaping Post.
Although the story is still sketchy, it appears that the seizures were carried out by the Southeast Asian country’s Pharmaceutical Services, which is independent from the Malaysian Ministry of Health. What details are known come from MOVE Malaysia, an advocacy group that is a member of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations. INNCO official Judy Gibson relayed the information to The Vaping Post.
According to Gibson, the operation was well coordinated by Pharmaceutical Services. “They must have been planning this for weeks because they, along with police officers, swooped on every single independent vape shop,” she told the Post.
The authorities also forced vape shop personnel to surrender receipts for the seized products and information about wholesale suppliers, MOVE told the Post. MOVE has been contacting vape shops that are members, and all so far have reported that they were raided. The organization believes the government will go after wholesalers next.
MOVE director Azrul Hafriz told the Post he believes the actions were carried out without cooperation from the Ministry of Health. The vaping association has regular contact with that agency, and Hafriz received no warning.
Three agencies within the government share responsibility for regulating vaping products. The Ministry of Health regulates e-liquid that contains nicotine under the Poisons Act, and the Sale of Drugs Act. According to the Malay Mail, those laws mandate that only licensed pharmacies and medical practitioners may sell nicotine, and only for medical purposes.
This isn’t the first time Malaysian authorities have conducted mass raids on vape shops. An almost identical series of actions were carried out by Malaysian authorities in 2015. As happened today, hundreds of vape shops were raided, and e-liquid containing nicotine was seized.