TEG horizontal logo 2

How Malaysian Youths Can Get Vape On Demand

Vape products are very accessible online to Malaysian youths. Facebook is used for retail; some vape products marketed contain toxic nicotine levels at 120mg/ml. Foodpanda lists vape stores for online delivery. TikTok advertises the vaping lifestyle.

Jokierempit at the DKECE vape show at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Picture taken by CodeBlue on May 13, 2023.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — Malaysian vapers can purchase e-cigarette and vape liquids, some with toxic levels of 12 per cent nicotine content, in a few minutes online without leaving the comfort of their homes.

To gain an insight into the online world of vape, CodeBlue investigated the sales and marketing of vape products across three internet platforms: Facebook, TikTok, and online delivery service foodpanda.

Facebook is the hard-sell platform for the vape industry with many sellers pushing products on Facebook’s massive community pages, some of which have approximately 12,000 members. 

Touting themselves as pages where vapers can share their “vape life” and anything related to vape, the majority of these groups have transformed into commercial boards for sellers, manufacturers and vapers to advertise their products. 

The #VapeLife hashtag is used across various social media platforms for vapers to share their experiences with vape devices. Over time, the hashtag devolved into companies using it as a form of advertising and grew to include former vapers sharing their health complications that arose from vaping over the course of years. 

Facebook makes it extremely easy for both parties to find and purchase any type of vape or e-liquid customers want.

All buyers need to do is key in the word “vape” into Facebook’s search bar, and a list of groups, pages and events pops up. While an experienced vaper might head right to the groups, a new initiate might choose to start with the vape pages, as many of them belong to vape shops — most of which have brick-and-mortar stores. 

These pages often advertise the products they stock, deals and discounts that are available and product review videos, allowing users to easily peruse vape devices from the comforts of their own homes. Once consumers are done with their selection, they can place their purchase through the page itself or via WhatsApp. 

Many vape pages offer home delivery services, with some naming the shipping company they use to ship their products. 

Vape Center Malaysia states that it uses Lalamove to ship its customers their purchases from its Shah Alam store. The retailer even went so far as to refashion a Lalamove advertisement to create its own advert for the delivery service. 

BRAIN Freeze Vape Shop Center Point, despite not advertising which shipment company they use, advertises that they do “COD (cash on delivery), far postage (jauh pos), [and] wholesale” deliveries. 

Although not many vape shops on Facebook offer COD services, statements of delivery and curbside pickups are common services offered on the platform with companies accepting various payment methods, such as online transfers, Boost payments, and cash. 

The sale of e-cigarettes and vape continues to be legal for minors aged below 18, without any other restrictions on such nicotine products – including advertising, promotion and sponsorship; retail and distribution channels; or nicotine content or flavours – after the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 failed to pass Parliament in the last Dewan Rakyat meeting.

Instead, the government referred the tobacco and vape control bill to the Health parliamentary special select committee after first reading last June 12, without even letting it go to second reading for a debate in Parliament, following the declassification of liquid nicotine from the Poisons Act 1952 last March 31.

Facebook: Vape Retail, Advertising and Marketing

A 30ml vape e-liquid sold online that is created after the well-known and loved Chupa Chups lollipop. Picture taken from the Orengie Vape Shop Facebook page on June 15, 2023.

While independent retailers offer delivery and purchase services on Facebook itself, industry players like Vape Empire use the platform more as an advertising and marketing site and redirect their clients to their websites and stores to purchase their products. 

A majority of pages on the platform have warnings that their products are not intended for minors (18 and below), but while these warnings are present, they often appear at the end of a post after users click a ‘see more’ button. 

This poses a problem, as retailers and other advertisements featuring vape products consist mainly of pictures, which give consumers most of the information they need. 

Furthermore, while brick-and-mortar shops have signs on the packaging warning users how addictive nicotine is, such warnings are almost non-existent on the online sphere. 

While there are many retail pages on Facebook, most of them are now defunct with only a handful actively posting updates, selling products and responding to messages. The vape groups, on the other hand, are filled with activity. 

Vape Lovers Malaysia is probably the largest Malaysian Facebook vape group having 12,500 members. Created in 2013, the group says that group members are allowed to share “vape, e-juice, accessories, live giveaway, vape reviewers, [and] contests.” And as the group is public, anyone can view the group’s page and the vape-related content posted. 

Retailers as well as manufacturers and companies tend to use this board as a means to market their wares, encourage sales and get users to join their telegram groups. 

The latest data from the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022 revealed a significant increase in the prevalence of e-cigarette and vape use among Malaysian teenagers, accompanied by a decline in the rate of smoking. 

The survey found that teenagers aged 13 to 17 currently using e-cigarettes or vape rose from 9.8 per cent in 2017 to 14.9 per cent in the year 2022. 

According to the survey, 34.6 per cent of adolescents acquired these products from dedicated vape stores, while 34.8 per cent said that they got these devices from their friends. 

This makes the inconsistency between the warnings against minors on these large Facebook groups and the ease by which customers are able to purchase these products on a COD basis a major issue that needs to be addressed immediately. 

This, however, is not the biggest problem when it comes to the free flow of products in these supergroups.

Indonesian Vape With 120mg/ml Nicotine Available on Facebook

Cake Drips is touted as the best e-liquid from Indonesia and comes in a 60ml bottle and has two nicotine percentages that users can choose from, 6% and 12%. Picture taken from Mvs Worldwide Distribution Sdn Bhd’s Facebook page on June 15, 2023.

Dunia Vape Malaysia, or Vape World Malaysia, is another supergroup and has 11,500 members. In contrast to Vape Lovers, Dunia Vape plays host to a slightly different demographic and has more posts from China-based sellers and on Indonesian products. 

These sellers from China aren’t targeting regular consumers but are using the group as a means of advertising their products to wholesalers and dealers to penetrate the Malaysian market. 

Xian Xiong, a manufacturer based in Shenzhen, posted a poster and video for a 6,500-puff disposable vape with a nicotine strength of 30mg/ml. 

“The taste is very delicious, a good-looking e-cigarette, and it has its own light. Now there are a large number of stocks. Welcome all dealers and wholesalers to consult and place orders!” reads her post. 

As the majority of products in the Malaysian vape market are from China, this influx of manufacturers is nothing new. The vape products from Indonesia are the bigger issue. 

MVS Worldwide Distribution posted a post on the group’s page advertising Cake Drips, a 60ml bottle of freebase e-liquid from Indonesia. Though the flavours of the product are fairly commonplace — cake and banana cake  — its nicotine content is through the roof when compared to other nicotine amounts seen on the Malaysian market. 

A typical pack of cigarettes in Malaysia tends to contain 20mg of nicotine, with each stick containing 1.0mg of nicotine. A typical vape sold in Malaysia contains between 30mg per ml to 50mg per ml of nicotine. Cake Drips starts with 60mg per ml of nicotine and ends with 120mg per ml of nicotine. 

The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 50 to 60mg of nicotine is a deadly dose for an adult weighing 150 pounds (approximately 70kg), and the lethal dose for children is around 6mg. 

Recently, a two-year-old girl in Pahang was hospitalised for suspected nicotine poisoning after she was believed to have ingested liquid nicotine from a disposable vape. Although she has since been discharged, she was left with neurological problems, with impaired motor and speech functions.

Vape Panda: Vape On Demand

Foodpanda, a company known for its food delivery services, is also in the business of supplying consumers with vape, as companies such as Vape Empire, nanoSTIX and Twenty9 have found a spot on the platform. 

Employing the tagline “convenient vape delivery online in Malaysia”, the foodpanda website states that there is nothing more inconvenient than running out of vape juice and realising that one has to dress up and head out to replenish one’s stock. 

But with foodpanda, they don’t have to face that hassle as its website allows vapers to restock “day or night, every day of the week” so that they’ll never be left “high and dry”. 

In addition to marketing its delivery services, foodpanda goes the additional step to tell consumers the best vape shops to purchase from and the products that can be purchased. 

“When you search for vape delivery near me you’ll find shops like nanoSTIX. NanoSTIX is one of the best-reviewed vape shops on foodpanda due to its huge range of fun flavours, from fruity apple and strawberry to smoky coffee. They also have classic tobacco and menthol vapes, as well as their own branded e-cigarettes. 

“Another popular shop is Cross Border Vaporeborn. They are particularly known for their sets of vape flavours with three, four, or even five varieties including pineapple, cola, bubblegum, and boba. 

“Finally, Vape Empire sells e-cigarettes, cartridges, and pod systems, as well as lots of other useful accessories like batteries and chargers,” reads the online statement. 

Tapping on an e-cigarette store reveals the flimsy pop-up barrier that requires individuals to click “accept” if they are aged 18 and above. Foodpanda includes another popup when users check out their products from a vape store, stating that users need to provide government-issued identification upon delivery of the product. 

CodeBlue has been unable to verify whether foodpanda does in fact check customers’ ID upon delivery of vape products purchased from the online delivery platform. 

Customers can easily pay for the product using cash via foodpanda’s platform, meaning there is no digital paper trail to alert parents of their children’s less-than-innocent purchases. 

TikTok: Vape Advertising and Marketing Hub

TikTok is mainly used as an advertising and marketing platform for e-cigarettes and vape products and stores, rather than online retail for these products. 

Most TikTokkers don’t put links or contact information to purchase the products modelled in their posts.

For example, TikToker vmanxcloth_’s video posted on May 6th depicts how vape shop employees occasionally get free products from their employers. The video, though seemingly targeted at men, also includes a female employer, encouraging more women to participate in the business. 

Another TikToker taiko_marcos showcased an electric blue DotIDEAS vape device that appears to be a special edition device. 

In order to gain insight into the soft advertising tactics on TikTok, CodeBlue spoke to 30-year-old TikTok influencer jokierempit (Jokie) about her experience as an influencer. 

According to Jokie, before she got into vaping, she was into smoking shisha or hookah — a specially prepared tobacco that is smoked through a pipe. She said that she was looking for an alternative to shisha; that led her to vaping. 

“I’m straight away vaping, starting from shisha. You know they have all the flavour, so we searching for the disposable one. Easy to use, just charge it,” said Jokie. 

In Malaysia, smoking shisha was a common nighttime activity with many young people frequenting shisha cafes with their friends to smoke the pre-prepared flavoured tobacco. This nighttime activity was quickly broken up after the 2019 smoking ban in eateries. 

Jokie said that she was an ordinary TikTokker, until one of her videos hit over 100,000 views. Then, Vape Empire approached her to do a review of their products and to collaborate with them.

Jokie’s videos don’t contain any information about the vape products. She features them through product placement, with pictures of the products inserted at the end of her videos. 

“My content is mostly more about story with the background of motorcycle, quotes and some of jedag jedug editing.”

Jedag jedug, according to Urban Dictionary, is a style of editing that is known for its weird effects. It is originally a joke edit made by a popular Indonesian editor.

Her highest-watched TikTok has over a million views and is a video of her sitting sideways on her Suzuki motorcycle as the wind whips her hair and she talks about self-care. She does not mention any vape product in the video, but around her neck hangs an AKSO lanyard, and she wears a King X shirt. 

Both AKSO and King X are vape brands available at Vape Empire for purchase. 

In her description box, Jokie tags vape companies and a representative from Vape Empire. Apart from that, there are no links to take interested consumers to these products, nor signs that tell interested consumers which products to purchase.  

In contrast to this video, in the video captioned “My MAMA My IDOL”, Jokie holds up a disposable vape as she asks viewers whether their mothers “rempit tak?” before showing a picture of her mother in shades astride a black and yellow bike. Once again, her video description contains nothing but tags of the various vape industry partners she works with. 

Jokie stated that she works with quite a number of vape companies, amongst which are King X official, Vapengin, AKSO Malaysia and Hcigar Nitro. She said that she gets paid around RM1,000 to RM3,000, depending on the number of views the videos get. 

“For now I’m getting a product contract with the company one month by one month. I hope I can get a one-year contract with their company.”

Jokie would like longer-term partnerships with Vape Empire and hopes that her channel will continue to the point where she can make reviews of anything she wants, not only vape content. 

When asked what sorts of interactions she receives for the vape products and brands she features in her videos, she said that some of her followers have told her that they purchased the products she features and have given her good product reviews.

As a vaper, Jokie enjoys King X’s strawberry cheesecake and said that she is not a heavy vaper, enjoying more of the wide variety of flavours at her disposal, rather than the nicotine high. 

“I just like the taste of the flavours. I’m not a heavy user. Because, if like, you smoke shisha, that is heavier. One shisha pipe is the same as three to four boxes of cigarettes. For pod, I don’t look at the [nicotine] percentage, I just vape, so long as the flavour is sweet, tasty, and not too cold.” 

Source: Code Blue

Kongsikan | Share


Bincang | Discuss