Lawyers have questioned the enforceability of the fatwa (edict)-based ban on vaping in Malaysian states, noting that health is under federal, not state, jurisdiction, and that the Islamic edict has not been gazetted, according to a story in the Malay Mail Online.
Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan said a national fatwa was not binding on states unless the religious edict was gazetted by the state.
“For them to enforce such a ban, the state fatwa committee must have a fatwa gazetted and it would come under the state’s Shariah criminal offence enactments,” he told the Mail.
Alternatively, the state could come up with its own legislation through the state assembly, though this would be problematic because matters pertaining to health came under the federal government, he added.
Shariah lawyer Nizam Bashir said that the national fatwa was an “opinion”, and that there were a number of grounds under which the bans could be challenged.
“In the absence of the medical report by the Health Ministry concerning health effects, arbitrariness would be one issue,” he said.
The states of Kelantan, Penang, Kedah, Johor and Terengganu banned the sale of vaping products from January 1; while Malacca has announced that it is to ban vaping in line with the edict, though it has yet to set a date for the ban. Negri Sembilan has decided to allow sales of vaping products to continue but is banning the use of electronic cigarettes among Muslims; while Putrajaya has said that it will only regulate vaping.
Meanwhile, the results of a study into electronic cigarettes and e-liquids are to be presented to cabinet by the end of January.
The study was undertaken with the aim of, among other things, finding out the extent to which e-cigarette vapor could affect health, and determining the specifications to be followed by e-liquid manufacturers.