Tobacco Control Bill to be finalised by month’s end, says Dzulkefly

The proposed Tobacco Control Act is expected to better control vape products, including those containing nicotine.

KUALA LUMPUR: The health ministry is expected to submit the draft of the Tobacco Control Bill to the Attorney-General’s Chambers by the end of this month.

Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said he was hoping he would be able to table the bill in Parliament early next year.

“Our aim is to tackle any tobacco-related issue seriously. This is our commitment and we are studying this new Act comprehensively,” he told reporters after launching the 17th Urological Association of Asia Congress here at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Recently, tobacco company JTI Malaysia had highlighted the continued sale of illegal tobacco and nicotine products, questioning the government’s enforcement of laws.

JTI managing director Cormac O’Rourke cited the latest findings of the Illicit Cigarette Study (ICS) by The Nielsen Company, which saw 153,000 discarded cigarette packs collected from streets and rubbish bins throughout the year and which were analysed for local tax stamps and authentic packaging, among others.

He said the ICS found a 1.7% increase in the consumption of illegal cigarettes from March to May this year, compared with the same period in 2018.

He said JTI estimates that 10% of smokers in the country use vape products. Based on current laws, he added, all vape products containing nicotine are illegal.

While the sale of nicotine products is regulated by the Poisons Act 1952, O’Rourke said JTI had been informed by the government that no licence has been issued by the health ministry for vaping products.

“Under the Poisons Act, we can only take action against those found to be selling products containing nicotine but do not have licences to do so,” Dzulkefly said.

“But we cannot enforce the law across the board as vape products are not listed under the Poisons Act.

“With the Tobacco Control Act, we will be able to address all these issues.”