Coffee Shop Group Lobbies Selangor PN Candidate Over Tobacco Bill

A coffee shops’ association submits a memo to Dr Afif Bahardin, PN candidate for Taman Medan, to demand open dialogue with retailers on the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill. The bill with the tobacco/ vape GEG is for Parliament, not DUN.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 11 — A coffee shops’ association has lobbied Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Taman Medan candidate Dr Afif Bahardin for more engagement over the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023.

According to a Free Malaysia Today (FMT) report, the Selangor chapter of the Coffee Shops and Restaurants Association submitted a memorandum to Dr Afif yesterday, demanding for the federal government to hold open dialogues with retailers on the bill that seeks to ban tobacco and vape products for anyone born from 2007, also known as the generational end game (GEG).

It’s unclear why the association met with Dr Afif, who is running for a seat in the Selangor state legislative assembly for tomorrow’s state election.

The Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill is a bill in Parliament moved by the federal government. Regardless of which coalition wins the Selangor state election, elected state assemblymen do not have the power to vote on the proposed federal legislation.

Dr Afif told reporters yesterday that engagement is vital for the successful implementation of the law, as without the engagement, support, and voluntary implementation by the community, the bill “would just remain as law on paper.”

“This is where the approach should be different from the way the health ministry is going about it at the moment. It’s just not enough, more (engagement) needs to be done before such policies are introduced,” Dr Afif was quoted saying in Petaling Jaya.

The former Penang State Health, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and Rural Development Committee chairman – who said he was responsible for introducing the Smoke-Free Penang programme – told reporters the Penang state government then had spoken to business owners about how the smoke-free programme could be implemented and achieved. 

“To get to that level, a lot of engagements needed to be done. So, the health ministry needs to play a bigger role in educating the public, community and business owners on why it is important to implement such policies.”

The Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association (MSCSPGA) and 44 of its affiliate associations previously appealed to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and MPs to review the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill before its tabling in Parliament last June 12. 

MSCSPGA president Wong Teu Hoon claimed that the bill was flawed and would not address the core issues related to smoking. 

He reportedly claimed that the smoking ban on those born after 2007 would force people to purchase illegal cigarettes and that enforcement of the bill would cause the closure of 6,000 coffee shops throughout the country.

After its tabling in the Dewan Rakyat for first reading last June 12, the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill was immediately sent to the Health parliamentary special select committee (PSSC). 

Dr Zaliha held that the bill was passed to the PSSC for further study, as it was crucial for the bill to receive unanimous support from all parties. 

The Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill retains the GEG ban on tobacco and vape products for anyone born from 2007, but, unlike the 2022 bill, the 2023 version proposes lighter punishment of a maximum RM500 fine or community service for offenders from the GEG group. 

Certain enforcement powers also exclude offences by the GEG group, while personal possession of tobacco or vape products is not an offence for the GEG group either.

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