KUALA LUMPUR (June 6): The government will be tabling the revised legislation on the tobacco generational endgame (GEG) in the Dewan Rakyat for first reading come June 12, according to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
“After that, I will meet with SUDR (the secretary of the Dewan Rakyat) and Speaker Tan Sri [Johari Abdul], and then we will see,” she told reporters at a briefing in Parliament here when asked about the date for the second reading.
The current Dewan Rakyat meeting is scheduled to end on June 15.
The previous version of the tobacco GEG law was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat in July last year, but was subsequently referred to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee for review after two days of debate that drew various complaints and suggestions from Members of Parliament.
Zaliha shared that the revision includes reducing the fines on conventional cigarette buyers born after Jan 1, 2007 to RM500, from RM5,000 previously, and introducing community services while maintaining no prison sentences for offenders.
“The revision is to take a less punitive approach, and be more educational instead,” she said.
The revision also removed provisions against ownership of tobacco, hence the issue of body searching by enforcement agencies will no longer be applicable, said Zaliha.
Under the latest revision, tobacco control will be divided into two categories, namely the conventional ways of smoking and cigarettes with heating devices like vapes.
The new tobacco GEG law, if passed by the Dewan Rakyat, will prohibit the sale and use of conventional tobacco products to those born on or after Jan 1, 2007.
Prohibition on the sale and use of conventional tobacco products will be enforced immediately after the law is passed, while enforcement towards cigarettes with heating devices will only be implemented at a later date.
Zaliha said the revision is an outcome of “navigating differences through collaborative compromise” after the ministry included all 23 recommendations from the Special Select Committee.
“If the government does not implement this policy, the cost to treat disease complications arising from conventional smoking will increase to RM8.77 billion, and [it will cost] RM369 million [to treat those arising] from electronic cigarettes by 2030,” she cautioned.
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