Survey: 76pc Malaysians say anti-tobacco Bill too heavy handed

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 — A recent survey has shown that 76 per cent of Malaysians disagree with the Tobacco and Smoking Products Control Bill 2022 which was tabled by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

According to Retail and Trade Brand Advocacy Malaysia Chapter (RTBA Malaysia), survey respondents deemed the Bill — which recently went through its first reading in Dewan Rakyat earlier this week — too heavy handed, an infringement on an individual’s right to choose and very hard to implement.

Managing director of RTBA Malaysia Datuk Fazli Nordin said that in the survey — which polled 318 Malaysians — respondents were appreciative of the government’s efforts to curb smoking prevalence in Malaysia, but expressed concern such a ban could become counterproductive.

“RTBA Malaysia echoes the sentiments shared by the respondents. We support any initiative that drives the nation forward, but prohibition, especially one so tough, will not drive progress.

“More so, it is not a pragmatic solution to reduce smoking prevalence,” he said.

The survey showed that 75 per cent of respondents felt that the ban was too harsh and would criminalise adults for smoking, while 73 per cent said that smoking was not the same as drugs, and therefore should not be banned.

It also said that 67 per cent of the respondents polled said the ban infringed on an individual’s right to choose, while 69 per cent said that the ban would be hard to implement.

What stands out is that 84 per cent of the respondents said that there are other methods to reduce smoking prevalence instead of implementing this policy, while another 88 per cent believe the government should refocus its efforts to killing the illicit cigarette market instead.

Another 63 per cent, however, said the best way to reduce smoking prevalence was through education.

Khairy is scheduled to table the Tobacco and Smoking Products Control Bill 2022 for the second reading in the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow, with the debate session and winding up for the Bill to be held the following day.

The Bill aims to prohibit those born after January 1, 2007 from purchasing or possessing cigarettes or vape products, with a fine not exceeding RM5,000 given to those who are caught buying, smoking, or possessing smoking-related products.

On the sale of all types of cigarette products, Khairy said the ministry would hold engagement sessions with retail traders to discuss the best mechanism on the matter.