Khairy confident tobacco bill will receive majority support from MPs

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is confident that the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 will receive the support of the majority of members of parliament. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 22, 2022.

HEALTH Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is confident that the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, which will be tabled at Dewan Rakyat next month after finalising several amendments, will receive the support of the majority of members of parliament. 

He said the bill was still being reviewed and studied by a parliamentary select committee and so far, discussions were proceeding smoothly with committee members studying the proposed amendments. 

“In principle, the majority of the members of parliament agreed with the bill. In fact, in the letter written by opposition leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to the prime minister, it was also mentioned that on the whole, opposition members of parliament from Pakatan Harapan supported the bill. 

“It’s just that they asked for some amendments to be made so that enforcement powers are clarified, fines are clarified, and so on. I believe that most of these issues have been resolved in the committee,” he told reporters during an interview on his achievements as health minister.  

On August 2, the Dewan Rakyat agreed that the Tobacco Product and Smoking Control Bill 2022 be referred to a parliamentary select committee to examine and make recommendations for improvement, when the bill was in the second reading.  

The bill, which among other things would prohibit the sale and use of any form of smoking material including electronic cigarettes or vaping devices to individuals born on January 1, 2007 onwards, was deemed to limit freedom of choice by some MPs after it was tabled in July. 

It also outlined provisions for the registration of tobacco products, smoking materials, or tobacco substitute products, in addition to controlling advertising, promotion and sponsorship, sales and purchases of tobacco products, smoking materials, tobacco substitute products, or smoking devices. 

Khairy said the select committee had met three times and he would bring the streamlined bill to its meeting next week for approval.  

In the meantime, Khairy said the bill was drafted to enable the control of all types of smoking products including electronic cigarettes and he saw it as very important to be approved given that the problem of using electronic cigarettes had become more prevalent among children. 

Asked how the Health Ministry (MOH) dealt with the interests of the people and the industry regarding the importance of the bill, Khairy said the MOH had given explanations to professional bodies and non-governmental organisations through a series of engagements on why electronic cigarettes needed to be regulated as tobacco products. and was not fully banned as implemented in Thailand, Brunei, and Singapore. 

“The sales ban has been communicated to the industry and stakeholders involved through a series of engagements that have been carried out. What is clear, their business is not affected because they can still carry out transactions with controls under this bill to groups other than who were born on 1 January 2007 onwards,” he said – Bernama, September 22, 2022.  

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