KUALA LUMPUR: The total enforcement cost for the Generational End Game (GEG) bill may reach up to RM305 million a year, says a researcher.
Bait al-Amanah research director Benedict Weerasena said the estimate covers the cost of the track-and-trace system, public awareness campaigns and hiring of additional enforcement officers.
“Equipment, vehicles and training, administrative costs of fines imposed, and additional enforcement costs to curtail the growth of illicit cigarette markets are included in the estimate as well,” he said at an event today hosted by Consumer Choice Centre (CCC).
However, Weerasena said the estimate is dependent on the full details of the enforcement powers agreed upon in the final version of the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023, or commonly known as the GEG bill, whereby wider-ranging powers would translate into higher enforcement costs.
Weerasena and Bill Wirtz, a policy analyst for the CCC, said the government should not rush into legislating the GEG bill.
Instead, they called on the government to focus on tackling the illicit cigarette trade and properly regulate tobacco and nicotine products.
The GEG bill seeks to ban the use, possession and sale of cigarettes and vape products to those born after 2007.
In February, the health ministry said it targets to re-table the bill in the “near future” so that enforcement can begin in 2024.
In June, health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the bill has been referred to the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on health.
Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya Coffee Shop Association president Kue Kok Meng urged the government to strengthen enforcement on its smoking ban in eateries rather than enforcing the GEG bill.
“When I drive around in small towns, a lot of people are getting away with smoking in eateries. That points to a lack of enforcement by the authorities,” he said.
Kue also urged the government to shoulder the responsibility of enforcement instead of leaving it to retailers, as he said it is unfair for them to shoulder the responsibility of verifying the ages of those who want to purchase cigarettes once the GEG bill is enforced.
“The government could not even deter people from buying illicit cigarettes,” he said.
“How can you expect us, retailers, to do the enforcement under the GEG bill?”