PSSC told to take neutral stance on Smoking Bill

KUALA LUMPUR: Members of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) must remain neutral when deliberating on the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022, say health activists.

They said those elected, be they from political parties or health experts, should also not be affiliated with any stakeholders who prioritise wealth over public health.

National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) managing director Dr M. Murallitharan said it was important for those in the PSSC to not have any interest in both the vaping and smoking industries.

“Similarly, we call for all Members of Parliament (MPs) to declare whether they have any involvement with stakeholders from tobacco and ecigarette companies,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

Also present yesterday were representatives from the Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam), Malaysian Women’s Action for Tobacco Control and Health, Ikram Health Malaysia, and the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca).

Dr Murallitharan also criticised the need for several MPs to delay and politicise this issue.

“The Bill has been clearly read by the Health Minister and is proposed to ensure our children will live healthy and more productive lives.

“Despite this, there are still those who turn a deaf ear and assume that our enforcement will go overboard with this initiative,” he said in response to arguments that the Bill would deprive the rights of the involved age groups.

Dr Murallitharan also called for MPs to respect the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which was also signed by Malaysia.

“Don’t delay the Bill anymore. October will decide the future of our people,” he said.

After much abuzz over the ‘generational endgame’ policy to stop smoking among those born in 2007 and beyond, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin referred the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022 to the PSSC on Tuesday.

The committee will look into the enforcement clause as well as proposed penalties under the Bill, otherwise known as the tobacco generational end game (GEG).

It will also recommend improvements and study proposals mooted by MPs during debates and to select committees.

Under the proposed Bill, children born in 2007 and subsequent years will be prohibited from smoking, buying or possessing any type of smoking product, including electronic cigarettes or vape products, even after reaching the age of 18.

Apart from this, shopkeepers and cigarette vendors are also not allowed to sell smoking products to those covered by the ban.

The ministry had initially proposed the ban to cover those born from Jan 1, 2005, onwards, but changed the age limit to those born after Jan 1, 2007.