PETALING JAYA: A think tank has urged the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on health to quickly review the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023 so that it can be voted on in the current parliamentary session.
The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy CEO Azrul Khalib said he was surprised that the government decided to refer the bill, also known as the Generational End Game (GEG) bill, to the health PSC at the first reading.
“Allowing the bill to proceed to second reading, would have allowed for an open debate, transparency of opinion and consideration of its merits,” he said in a statement.
The bill includes GEG provisions which seek to ban the use, purchase and sale of cigarettes and vape products to those born after 2007.
Earlier today, health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the bill had been sent to the PSC for further review, following engagement sessions with several stakeholders.
Azrul said the government’s move to remove liquid and gel nicotine used in vapes from the list of controlled substances scheduled under the Poisons Act 1952 against the recommendations of the Poisons Board had opened a “Pandora’s Box”.
He said the consequence was that the youth, particularly young women, were now the targets of aggressive promotional, marketing, and sales campaigns by retailers and manufacturers.
“No more excuses, ifs, and buts. The government and MPs must be pragmatic, and find both the right compromises and the moral courage to step up and do the right thing,” Azrul said.
“If this means that we must temporarily shelve the Generational End Game provisions to guarantee passage of this bill, so be it. We urgently need the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill to be passed in Parliament now,” Azrul said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said the government’s decision to refer the bill to the PSC cast doubts over whether it would be passed in the current parliamentary session.
He said the decision to refer the bill to the PSC will mean that its tabling will yet again be delayed.
“If it is delayed further, the health ministry must immediately reverse its decision of exempting nicotine from the Poisons Act as the e-cigarette and vaping industry is still unregulated.”