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Malaysia: Tobacco generational endgame legislation important step forward

14 July 2022

By Audrey Dermawan, New Straits Times

GEORGE TOWN: All Cabinet members and members of parliament (MPs) have been urged to unanimously support Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s proposal for a progressive law to eliminate smoking and possession of tobacco products for people born after 2005.

CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader said if the law is enacted, it would contribute to a healthy society and at the same time, reduce the financial burden on the healthcare system.

“CAP welcomes and applauds Khairy’s announcement (to propose a progressive law to eliminate smoking and possession of tobacco products for people born after 2005).

“As such, we urge all Cabinet members and MPs to unanimously support Khairy’s proposal because, as he described, ‘Malaysia will become the first country in the world to enact a tobacco generational endgame legislation’. It will be a momentous achievement for Malaysia which started its tobacco control in the early 1970s.

“If the law is enacted, it will contribute to a healthy society and at the same time, reduce the financial burden on the healthcare system. Chronic smoking-related diseases also cause man-hour loss at work,” he said today.

Earlier today, Khairy said the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill was approved by the Cabinet yesterday.

He said the bill would go before Parliament for debate in the upcoming session, which starts on Monday.

The proposed law contains clauses to prohibit the sale of cigarettes, tobacco and vape products to anyone born after 2005.

Traders and cigarette vendors would not be allowed to sell smoking products to the people covered by the ban.

According to Mohideen, the government made a bad decision when it imposed a 10 per cent excise duty on all electronic and non-electronic cigarette products to raise revenue in 2021 without considering the economic cost of treating chronic smoking-related diseases.

“The taxes earned from all tobacco products are minuscule compared to the estimated current expenditure of RM3 billion on treating chronic smoking-related diseases. The amount is projected to increase to RM8 billion by 2030.

“The claim by the tobacco industry that vaping is harmless and the way to take people off smoking tobacco products is baseless and self-serving. Studies have shown that vaping is unsafe as the aerosol contains heavy metals and other toxic chemicals as well. Vaping has been found to be more addictive, making it harder to quit.

“Malaysia desperately needs a comprehensive tobacco control law to replace the current Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 that, oddly, is placed under the Food Act 1983,” he added.

Mohideen said if there had been no intense lobbying by the tobacco, the Regulations would have been replaced by a standalone Tobacco Control Act in 2007.