Pharmacists’ Group Condemns Tobacco Bill’s ‘Intentional Delay’ After GEG Decoupling

After a Cabinet decision on GEG decoupling, the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) condemned the “continued intentional delay” in passing the tobacco bill. MPS also questioned the effectiveness of the Health PSSC that consulted AGC in reviewing the bill.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 – The Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) has slammed the latest delay in the tabling of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023.

MPS said it was increasingly evident that there was no political will to advance the tobacco and vape control bill with the urgency and seriousness it deserved, amid the legalisation of nicotine vape to everyone, including minors, due to the declassification of liquid nicotine.

“The continued intentional delay in passing this bill suggests that the health of our nation is being sidelined in favour of political gamesmanship,” MPS said in a statement.

“This is no longer merely a policy oversight, but a direct threat to the well-being of our citizens, and we condemn this in the strongest possible terms.”

CodeBlue reported last Monday that Cabinet decided last week to decouple the generational end game (GEG) from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill, due to Attorney-General Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh’s advice that the tobacco and vape ban for anyone born from 2007 was unconstitutional.

As such, the bill may only be tabled in the next parliamentary meeting in 2024, rather than in the current Dewan Rakyat meeting that ends on November 30.

“The MPS views the current government’s strategy in this matter to be a mere political ploy. Its current lukewarm stance that is devoid of genuine resolve to combat the public health emergency posed by smoking products is unacceptable.

“The health implications of continued inaction and its impact on future health expenditure is devastating compared to the negligible financial gains in the short-term. The lives and well-being of Malaysians should not be gambled as a bargaining chip on the political table.”

The pharmacists’ group also questioned the effectiveness of the Health parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) chaired by Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad that reviewed the tobacco control bill based on consultations with key stakeholders, including the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“In June 2023, the PSSC recommended that liquid nicotine be reinstated under the Poisons Act. To date, this recommendation has not been acted upon by the government.

“This raises questions about whether the Committee’s recommendations are being considered at all,” MPS said, adding that the deregulation of liquid nicotine since last March 31 has caused “irreversible harm” to the people.

The pharmacists’ group also demanded data on how many vape companies have been registered with the Customs Department and the total tax revenue collected on e-liquids with nicotine so far.

“The answers to these questions are pivotal in understanding the true motivations behind the government’s actions. Notwithstanding any financial gains, the MPS urges the government to restore the control of nicotine gel and liquid to the Poisons Act immediately.”

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa has yet to issue a statement on whether the government will reinstate liquid and gel nicotine used in e-cigarettes and vaporisers as a scheduled poison under the Poisons List, following Cabinet’s decision to drop GEG provisions from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill.

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