Health minister: Proposed generational smoking ban ‘put aside’ for now

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — The proposal for a smoking and vaping generational end game (GEG) has been postponed and not completely dropped, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said today.

She said this to explain the GEG’s absence from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 tabled today.

“The view given by the Attorney General’s Chambers, saying that the matter is related to Article 8 — it can be challenged — so what’s more important now is to carry out regulation.

“When the view was given, we felt that the most important thing is to ensure regulation particularly on smoking products such as vaping is prioritised as we don’t want a lot of following (reactions).

“If you still remember, in March, we took out nicotine gel from the Poisons Act 1952 which resulted in some loopholes on regulation of nicotine gel especially involving vaping, and we don’t want that situation to drag on, and we are worried that we won’t be able to address the loophole hence we put forward what is more important in the Bill, the GEG policy put aside first, not that we are going to forget about it entirely,” Dr Zaliha told reporters during a briefing on the Bill.

She added that in the revised Bill, the term “minor” has been included to allow the government to regulate those who fall under this age category.

“The GEG policy is just put aside, but we want to ensure that the revised proposed Bill is more strict in regulating smoking products and we included the word ‘minor’ — those aged under 18 — at least children under 18 we can regulate them, that is the reason (for putting aside the GEG policy,” she said.

Clarifying categories of substitute tobacco, Dr Zaliha said this would include any form of products used for smoking, such as vaping devices or electronic cigarettes and substances made from tea leaves.

As for smoking substances, the regulation will include shisha as the device uses tobacco.

The Bill was tabled this morning for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat and omitted the GEG policy that aimed to prohibit the sale and use of any form of smoking material including electronic cigarettes or vaping to individuals born on January 1, 2007.

Dr Zaliha previously withdrew the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 to make way for the revised version tabled today.

Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin today criticised the federal government for omitting the GEG clause, calling it a “sad day” and alleged that the policy was dropped because of strong lobby from tobacco companies in Malaysia, rather than legal arguments of the unconstitutionality in its implementation as has been attributed to Attorney General Datuk Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh.

When asked to respond to the remarks, Dr Zaliha said they were just Khairy’s personal views.