Health Ministry revises smoking bill following AG's advice, focuses on minors

28 Nov 2023 08:41pm
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) decision to omit and change the term generational end game (GEG) to minors or persons under the age of 18 under the revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health 2023 Bill was made upon the advice of Attorney-General (AG) Datuk Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh.

Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the decision was made after the AG suggested that the provision on the GEG smoking ban could be challenged under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution concerning the right to equality.

"Upon the advice, we decided that the most important thing to do now is to ensure that control of tobacco products is being prioritised, and we (MOH) do not want any repercussions from that,” she said during a media briefing about the bill at Parliament building here today.

Dr Zaliha also said that the tabling of the bill is crucial for comprehensive control of all tobacco products, especially vape devices.

"We do not want this matter to we prioritise what is more important, which is to table the bill.

"We are not pushing aside the GEG element in controlling smoking products, but we want to ensure stricter least we can control those under the age of 18,” she said.

The revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 was today re-tabled for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat, among others dropping the GEG element which sought to ban those born in 2007 and onwards from smoking or purchasing smoking products and cigarettes.

Dr Zaliha Mustafa when tabling the bill said the second reading of the bill will be tabled tomorrow.

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On the reduction of the maximum compound from RM1,000 to RM500 in the revised bill, Dr Zaliha said the ministry is putting priority on enforcement through education, which is to educate children not to smoke.

"The elements of education are crucial to ensure that these children grow up in a tobacco-free environment.

"There is also a provision of discretion, meaning that if a child is found guilty; discretion is exercised by enforcement officers...if they cannot afford to pay, only then do we move to another level where we can use the court's power to charge them, but it is not a criminal offence,” she said.

The minister said that the MOH had engaged with several agencies, including the Ministry of Education, to plan an education programme suitable for children in line with the legislation.

"They are ready to cooperate with us to advocate and campaign to control smoking products,” she added. - BERNAMA