Tobacco Bill’s Fate Hinges On Election Date

The tobacco control bill report by the PSSC is expected to be tabled tomorrow.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 – The fate of the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 is unclear amid heightened speculation that Parliament will be dissolved soon to make way for the 15th general election (GE15).

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had earlier announced promising news that all 13 members of the parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) in charge of the proposed legislation had unanimously agreed to revisions made to the tobacco bill.

Khairy said the approval signalled strong support in favour of the revised tobacco bill as members of the PSSC represent nearly all political parties in Parliament. The PSSC is expected to deliver their statement containing proposed improvements to the bill tomorrow.

Following the PSSC’s statement, the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 will be retabled for second reading and debated in the Dewan Rakyat. The revised tobacco bill could be debated on Thursday or after the tabling of Budget 2023, scheduled on Friday.

Despite his optimism that the bill will receive support from MPs, Khairy said there is a possibility that the passage of the bill will be stalled until a new government is elected, if elections are called soon.

“If the bill is not read for third reading, it means that the bill is not passed. But even if the bill is read for the third time and is passed in the Dewan Rakyat, but it cannot be moved to the Senate [because Parliament is dissolved], then the bill must be retabled by the new government. That’s the procedure,” Khairy told reporters in Putrajaya today.

“There is no shelf life beyond Parliament. Just because the bill was passed in the Dewan Rakyat by the previous government, it doesn’t mean that it can be moved directly to Dewan Negara. It has to be brought back as part of the new government’s business,” Khairy said.

In any case, Khairy said he was “pleased” that the bill at least had the backing of the PSSC.

“This can be a reference for the next government, that everyone has agreed. All that needs to be done is to carry the bill forward because all the hard work has been done, all the complicated matters have been sorted, and it has taken into consideration all views,” Khairy said.

On Monday, Khairy moved to postpone the tabling of the tobacco control bill report by the PSSC on the premise that the committee “required more time” to carefully review the bill before recommendations are presented to the Dewan Rakyat.

CodeBlue last reported in September, citing sources, that the PSSC generally agreed to retain Section 17(1)(a) and (b) of the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, but to drop Section 17(1)(c) on the ban of possession of tobacco or vape products for anyone born from January 1, 2007.

Under Section 17(1)(a), individuals born on January 1, 2007, onwards are prohibited from smoking any tobacco product or substitute tobacco product, while Section 17(1)(b) prohibits these people from using any smoking device.

Several groups including influential youth group Undi18 had urged the government to consider postponing the proposed generational tobacco ban to those born from 2023, instead of starting with the 2007 cohort.

Others such as the Malaysia Society for Harm Reduction called for a gradual approach to the generation end game (GEG), saying plans to ban smoking and the sale of all tobacco products to the next generation should be carried out in phases instead of an outright ban.

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