‘No smoking for minors’ law to kick in this year

3 June 2024

By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The law prohibiting the sale and purchase of tobacco products, smoking items or tobacco substitutes to those under 18 years old will come into force this year.

It comes under the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 (Act 852), which Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said will be enforced starting this year.

Under the Act, which was gazetted on Feb 2, the provision of any services related to smoking to minors under 18 will also be banned.

Dzulkefly said it is of great concern that recent findings on cigarette smoking showed that although its prevalence among children aged 13 to 17 had decreased, vaping recorded an uptick.

“This is a wake-up call. The regulations (of the Act) will be enforced to curb this,” he told reporters at the World No Tobacco Day Carnival here yesterday.

The recent National Health and Morbidity Survey reported that the rate of cigarette use among adolescents aged 13 to 17 dropped from 13.8% in 2017 to 6.2% in 2022. For ecigarette or vape use, however, it increased from 9.8% in 2017 to 14.9% in 2022.

Dzulkefly said various actions will be taken through the enforcement of Act 852 led by his ministry to curb smoking of cigarettes and vapes among Malaysians, especially adolescents.

The war on smoking requires a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, he added.

“This includes non-governmental organisations, teachers, retailers, politicians and enforcement bodies, as well as Malaysians in general. We must be united in curbing the smoking and vaping culture,” he added.

Separately, Dzulkefly said a National International Health Regulations Authority will be set up this year to enhance preparedness for health emergencies.

The minister said this is following the revisions to the International Health Regulations (IHR), which require World Health Organisation (WHO) members to create a national IHR authority.

“A national-level IHR will be set up to help in coordination in the country. The authority is also a whole-of-government approach, not just on the Health Ministry,” he said.

Asked about the timeline for its formation, he said it will be within six months.

“If possible, I want to set it up immediately,” he added.

Dzulkefly said 194 member states of the WHO agreed to the amendments at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the WHO, the IHR is an instrument of international law that is legally binding on 196 countries.

Other new amendments to the IHR include introducing a definition of a pandemic emergency; a commitment to solidarity and equity on strengthening access to medical products and financing; as well as the establishment of the States Parties Committee to facilitate effective implementation of the amended regulations.