Government To Slightly Delay Tobacco And Vape Bill Tabling To June

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa says the tobacco and vape bill will be tabled in June, slightly later than her earlier target of May. Dewan Rakyat only sits for 7 days in June. The bill also seeks to prevent the inclusion of illicit drugs in e-liquids.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 – The government has decided to postpone the tabling of the tobacco and vape control bill to June, instead of this month as originally planned.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, in a statement issued last April 1 after she gazetted an order to exempt liquid and gel nicotine from the Poisons Act 1952, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) targeted tabling the bill in the upcoming Dewan Rakyat meeting in May.

“The Health Ministry is now ready to table the Bill again with the amendments based on the recommendations, at the next parliamentary sitting in June this year,” Dr Zaliha Mustafa told The Star yesterday, without providing reasons for the slight delay.

A recent CodeBlue poll run among 31 MPs from both sides of the divide revealed split support for the tobacco and vape bill – not along party lines, but personal inclinations. 

The previous government tabled the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 on July 27 last year, just five days before the end of that Dewan Rakyat meeting. Then-Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was forced to send the bill to a parliamentary special select committee after objections from MPs on both sides of the divide against the “bulldozing” of the bill. 

Khairy failed to get the bill to a vote in the subsequent parliamentary meeting before the dissolution of the 14th Parliament.

The upcoming Dewan Rakyat meeting is only scheduled for 11 days – four days from May 22 to 25, as well as seven days from June 6 to 15. This leaves a very short time for MPs to debate the tobacco and vape bill, especially if some remain opposed to the generational end game (GEG) provision. 

Dr Zaliha reportedly said that one of the main components of the bill, which has been renamed by the unity government as the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023, was the generational end game (GEG) provision that seeks to ban tobacco and vape products for anyone born from January 1, 2007.

The GEG would be enforced in phases, she said, without elaborating.

Dr Zaliha told The Star that the MOH has incorporated a provision in the bill that requires the registration of all tobacco and vape products before sale.

“This clause ensures that the products being sold adhere to the government’s regulations, thereby preventing the inclusion of illicit drugs or harmful substances in e-cigarette liquids.”

Dr Zaliha did not mention in The Star article on what other regulations would be enacted for vape and e-cigarettes containing nicotine, such as whether the government would restrict sale to minors aged below 18, caps on nicotine content, prohibitions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, packaging and labelling, or sales restrictions to certain locations. 

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