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Health Ministry tables revised anti-tobacco law, omits generational smoking ban

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 ― Health Minister Dr Zaliha Musafa today tabled the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 for its first reading in the Dewan Rakyat, a revision of the previous anti-tobacco law.

The Bill now omits the Generational End Game (GEG) policy, which would have prohibited the sale and use of any form of smoking material including electronic cigarettes or vaping to individuals born on January 1, 2007.

“The second reading of the Bill is scheduled for [tomorrow],” she said.

She had earlier retracted the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023, to make way for the revised anti-smoking Bill.

The GEG element was part of the Bill which was tabled for its first reading in June, and the original version of the anti-smoking Bill known as the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 tabled by former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin in July 2022.

Under the revised Bill, Clause 13 seeks to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, smoking substances or substitute tobacco products to any person who is a minor. This clause also prohibits minors from purchasing any tobacco product, smoking substance or substitute tobacco product. Any person who fails to comply with the clause commits an offence.

Clause 13 2 (a) of the proposed Bill states that a person found to have committed an offence of selling tobacco products, smoking substances or substitutes to smoking products or providing any services for smoking to a minor shall be fined not more than RM20,000 or imprisoned for not more than a year or both.

However, if the offence is committed for a second time, the person could be fined up to RM30,000, or a prison term not exceeding two years, or both.

Clause 17 seeks to prohibit any person who is a minor from smoking, chewing or using any tobacco product or substitute tobacco product. Any minor who fails to comply shall be fined not more than RM500 or be ordered to do community service pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Code or the Child Act 2001.

On May 22, the Ministry of Health said it was ready to re-table the Bill which included the generational endgame (GEG) policy, during the ongoing second meeting of the second session of the 15th Parliament.

The revised Bill was then tabled in June, however its second reading did not take place as the Bill was sent back to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) for further review.

Another date was then set on October 10 for the Bill to be tabled for its second reading, but this also did not materialise to make way for government affairs in Parliament.

On November 16, Khairy claimed that two Cabinet members and “the gaffer” of blocking the aforementioned tabling of the Bill.

He named the ministers as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

As for “gaffer”, the informal British stand alludes to a person in charge of others.

The original Bill proposed to increase fines for suppliers, lower fines for buyers or consumers in the GEG group, and include a two-year “educational enforcement” on the GG first after the Act comes into effect.

The 2023 version of the Bill incorporates amendments suggested by the PSSC last year, including a reduction in the maximum fine for GEG offenders from RM5,000 to RM500, and introduces a provision for community service to educate and raise awareness.