PETALING JAYA: Questions abound over the tabling of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 for its second reading in the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow.
This comes after a health ministry briefing for MPs, scheduled to be held at 5pm today, was postponed indefinitely.
The health ministry has also postponed a media briefing on the bill scheduled for this afternoon in Parliament. No reasons were given for the postponement.
A source close to the matter told FMT that the tabling of the bill has been postponed.
At the time of publication, health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and the ministry’s communication team have yet to respond to queries on whether the tabling of the bill, also known as the Generational End Game (GEG) bill, had been postponed.
Last week, Zaliha announced that the Cabinet had decided that the bill would be tabled for its second reading on Oct 10.
The GEG bill seeks to ban the use, purchase and sale of cigarettes and vape products to those born after 2007.
First tabled by then health minister Khairy Jamaluddin in July last year, the bill was held up due to resistance from several MPs over its content. The parliamentary select committee (PSC) on health was then asked to address these issues.
The bill was also referred to the PSC on health after its first reading in June, with Zaliha stating last week that the PSC held several meetings and engagement sessions with stakeholders to gain bipartisan support.
“The committee has put forward several proposals and all of them have been well received by the health ministry,” she said in a statement.
Numerous groups have voiced their opposition to the bill, especially over its heavy fines for offences, its lack of engagement with stakeholders, and the economic impact on retailers.
Among them were the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI), which said the bill would send investors “the wrong message”.
It also said existing industry players, including manufacturers, distributors and retailers related to the vape sector, would be affected by the bill.
Others who have voiced concern about the bill include the Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Associations of Malaysia, Consumer Choice Center, and the Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association.
The bill was formulated as smoking costs the country RM6 billion a year, putting a huge burden on taxpayers.