GEG provision dropped from tobacco bill upon AG’s advice, says Zaliha

Ravin Palanisamy

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa says the exclusion of the generational endgame provisions from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 is not permanent. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 28, 2023.

THE tobacco and vape generational endgame (GEG) provisions were “unconstitutional”, according to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), which was the reason why they were dropped from the revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023. 

Although claimed otherwise by certain quarters, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said there were no other factors involved in the ministry’s decision. 

“It is about constitutional argument (as raised by the AGC) being the only factor,” she told reporters at a media briefing on the newly tabled bill in parliament today. 

Health news portal CodeBlueb reported that Attorney-General Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh was of the opinion the GEG provisions were “unconstitutional” as they had violated article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which granted equality before the law. 

Meanwhile, former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who was the architect behind the GEG bill, took a swipe at the current government for omitting certain clauses when the ministry had decided to table the much-anticipated bill. 

“Today is a sad day. I crafted the GEG for public health. And the bill that I brought to parliament, which contained the GEG and measures to regulate vape sales received support from the public health community. 

“They had wanted vape to be banned. Full stop. But we managed to find a middle ground where we included the GEG provision.

“Now, that has been dropped,” the former Rembau lawmaker posted on his Instagram story. 

Khairy claimed that the GEG was dropped because of strong lobbying from tobacco companies in Malaysia, rather than legal arguments of the unconstitutionality in its implementation as has been attributed to by the AG. 

Khairy said the decision today was a big win for the tobacco and vape industries. 

Meanwhile, Zaliha said that the GEG was only temporarily excluded from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 after obtaining the opinion of the AGC.

She, however, said that it was not a permanent expulsion, rather the ministry had decided to prioritise the drafting of the bill without any subsequent issues related to the legislation. 

She said that the need to re-enter GEG into the anti-tobacco bill will be considered based future needs. – November 28, 2023.

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