Medical Group Demands Zaliha’s Explanation After MPs’ Briefing On Tobacco Bill Postponed

Medical Mythbusters Malaysia wants Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa to explain if the postponement of an MPs’ briefing initially scheduled this evening means a further delay of the tabling of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 – A medical group is calling on Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa to explain the postponement of the revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, originally set for tomorrow.

Medical Mythbusters Malaysia made this demand on Facebook today, citing a letter signed by the health minister, which announced the postponement of a briefing session for both government and Opposition MPs on the tobacco and vape control bill, initially scheduled for 5pm today, to a later, unknown date.

“We hope that the minister’s office can provide an explanation to the people about the reasons for the postponement. The people have the right to know. Because as long as there is no law, our youth remain free to be recruited as nicotine addicts,” Medical Mythbusters Malaysia said in their post.

Last Thursday, Dr Zaliha announced through a press statement that the tobacco and vape control bill would be presented for its second reading in the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow, following a Cabinet decision made last Wednesday.

However, a source told CodeBlue yesterday that the tobacco bill won’t be presented for its second reading in Parliament tomorrow, saying, “Sad to say, Tuesday won’t happen”.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) also informed the press yesterday that a media briefing scheduled for this afternoon on the bill in Parliament has been postponed indefinitely.

CodeBlue previously reported that revisions made to the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill, following reviews by the Health parliamentary special select committee (PSSC), included increased fines for suppliers under the generational end game (GEG) ban on tobacco and vape; lower fines to below RM500 for buyers, or smokers or vapers in the GEG group; and a two-year “educational enforcement” period after the Act takes effect.

However, it seems that the primary concern among MPs from various parties revolves around the GEG policy itself, regardless of the specific details regarding fine amounts or enforcement authority. The GEG policy aims to ban both traditional and electronic cigarettes for individuals born from 2007 onwards throughout their lifetime.

The current Dewan Rakyat session is scheduled to continue until November 30. In practical terms, even if the second reading does not occur tomorrow, the government still has the opportunity to amend the tobacco bill. They may even consider separating the GEG provision from the legislation to garner support from MPs.

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