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Tobacco, vape industry didn’t influence generational smoking ban proposal withdrawal, says Dzulkefly
Published on: Wednesday, March 20, 2024
By: FMT, Mohamad Fadli
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Tobacco, vape industry didn’t influence generational smoking ban proposal withdrawal, says Dzulkefly
Health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad says the decision to drop the GEG provision in the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill was unrelated to lobbying from the tobacco and vape industry. (Bernama pic)
Kuala Lumpur: Health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad says his deputy, Lukanisman Awang Sauni, was incorrect to say that pressure from the tobacco and vape industry led to the government scrapping plans to ban smoking and vaping for those born after 2007.

Dzulkefly told the Dewan Rakyat that the decision to drop the generational end game (GEG) provision in the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill was unrelated to such lobbying.

“The deputy minister’s facts are wrong and his speech was wrong … We wanted the GEG (provision) to be included, however, a constitutional issue was raised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC),” said Dzulkefly.

“It (the decision to drop the GEG provision) had nothing to do with lobbying or anything that can be considered as external influences. I don’t want this issue to drag on further.”

Acknowledging that industry representatives and lobbyists had met MPs regarding the issue, he said this was well within the country’s laws.

“I think it is quite inappropriate (to assume) this meant that the industry representatives and lobbyists influenced the government and the Cabinet,” he said. “That’s wrong.”

Dzulkefly was responding to Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Ind-Muar) who asked whether the GEG provision was dropped due to pressure from the vape industry.

On Thursday, Lukanisman said, without elaborating, that pressure from tobacco and vape industry players had influenced the “decision” on the bill.

Responding to a call by Perikatan Nasional’s Kapar MP, Dr Halimah Ali, for greater political will by Putrajaya to resist lobbying from tobacco and vape industry players, Lukanisman said the government “needed the cooperation and support of all parties”.

He cited Putrajaya’s experience in tabling the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill, which initially contained the GEG components seeking to ban smoking and vaping for those born after 2007.

“If we look at our experience in tabling the GEG (bill), there were conflicting views (on the GEG components),” he said.

“There was pressure from the industry, with industry (members) entering Parliament and meeting with MPs. This influenced that decision,” the deputy minister told the Dewan Rakyat.

First tabled by then health minister Khairy Jamaluddin in July 2022, the bill was held up by resistance from several MPs over its content. At the time, the health parliamentary committee was asked to address these issues.

It was retabled in June last year after the formation of the unity government following the 15th general election but referred to the health parliamentary committee once again.

Attorney-General Ahmad Terrirudin Salleh reportedly described the GEG provisions as unconstitutional for offending the right to equal protection under the law.

The GEG components were eventually removed from the tobacco bill on grounds that they were unconstitutional, though then health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the government might “bring it back” in the future if needed.

A revised version of the bill was tabled and passed by the Dewan Rakyat in November, and by the Dewan Negara the following month.

On Monday, Khairy claimed that Malaysia had violated the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) by ceding to pressure from tobacco and vape industry players to drop the GEG bill.

Article 5.3 of the FCTC mandates the protection of policies from the vested interests of commercial firms and the tobacco industry.

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