SERI KEMBANGAN, July 8 – Khairy Jamaluddin today confirmed that the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill, which proposes to ban smoking for future generations, will not contain jail terms for individual possession of cigarettes or vape.
The health minister said “minor offences”, such as personal possession or use of cigarettes and vape, will not be punished with incarceration.
Other penalties will still apply, although no further details were provided on how the government plans to punish those aged 18 and younger from next year for smoking or vaping if the bill is passed and comes into effect in 2023.
The draft bill, however, contains jail sentences for “heavy offences” involving persons who participate in the sale or distribution of tobacco or vape products to those born from January 1, 2005, Khairy said.
“For minor offences, meaning for individual possession (of cigarettes and vape), there are no jail terms. It (incarceration) is more for heavy offences – and this includes illegal sale. But in terms of individual possession, there won’t be any jail terms,” Khairy told reporters after launching the Generational End Game Advocacy Road Show (Gegar Wanita) at Universiti Putra Malaysia here today.
Khairy said the Bill will be presented to the Cabinet next week, before it is tabled in Parliament later this month.
The updated draft Bill will cover electronic cigarettes and vaping products in addition to conventional tobacco products like cigarettes, with Khairy describing the former as having “gone out of control” since they were first introduced in Malaysia nearly two decades ago.
“That’s why we need a specific law to regulate all smoking products. Under this proposed Bill, we can regulate, for the first time, the e-cigarette or vape industry.
“It has gone out of control. We’ve allowed companies to market their products to people in Malaysia for years, especially to teenagers and children.
“We can tightly regulate all sales of e-cigarettes and vape [through this Bill]. We can also have an oversight and control of the chemicals and ingredients that are included in these products. Right now, we have no idea the amount of chemicals used in these vape liquids which are then sold to our people, our youth,” Khairy said.
Khairy said surveys have shown that the general public is in agreement with the cohort smoking ban, including current smokers and those born from 2005 onwards.
“No smokers in this country, I believe, want their children to be addicted to tobacco, which is why now is the best time to shut the door completely to smoking for young Malaysians , once and for all,” Khairy said.
Also present at the event was Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Rina Mohd Harun.
Khairy and Rina were given a memorandum from Gegar Wanita in support of the federal government’s proposed cohort smoking ban.
The memorandum urges all lawmakers to ensure the tabling of the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill, scheduled for this month, as well as to fully support and pass the Bill “for the sake of future generations.”
“We urge that the new Tobacco Bill that will be tabled be supported and approved by all MPs for the sake of the people as the country’s smoking problem can no longer be effectively curbed under the existing Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 (PPKHT),” the memorandum stated.
Gegar Wanita includes representatives from the Malaysian Council for Child Welfare (MKKM), the Malaysian Green Lung Association, IKRAM Health, Malaysian Women’s Action for Tobacco Control and Health (MyWatch), National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM), and PEMADAM.
It also represents 42 other civil societies, medical and professional bodies, as well as five individuals.