KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 – Khairy Jamaluddin said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had approved the tobacco control bill when he brought it to Parliament last year, before a sudden recent reversal.
The former health minister was responding to an X post by BFM of CodeBlue’s report on Cabinet’s decision to decouple the generational end game (GEG) from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, due to Attorney-General Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh’s advice that the generational tobacco and vape ban is unconstitutional.
“When I brought this bill to Parliament, the Attorney-General’s Chamber signed off on it,” Khairy posted on Instagram Stories last Saturday.
“Now, AGC suddenly says it’s unconstitutional. This volte face has no basis in law. It’s a political decision. Plain and simple. So much for protecting future generations and saving lives. Big tobacco and the vape industry must be loving it.”
Both the 2022 and 2023 versions of the tobacco and vape control bill – brought by Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administrations respectively – contain GEG provisions to prohibit the sale to and use of conventional and electronic cigarettes for anyone born from 2007 throughout their lifetime.
CodeBlue reported that the AGC believed the GEG contravened Article 8 of the Federal Constitution that guarantees equality before the law, as the government’s legal advisors opined that this would lead to “two sets of laws for two different groups of citizens based on age”, according to a source. As such, tabling of the bill will likely be delayed until next year.
The AGC did not respond to CodeBlue’s requests for comment after publication of CodeBlue’s November 6 report.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa has yet to issue a statement to confirm CodeBlue’s report on the GEG decoupling or to announce if the government will reinstate liquid nicotine as a scheduled poison under the Poisons Act 1952 due to the latest delay of the tobacco bill.
Pharmacist and doctor groups have roundly condemned the government’s decision to drop GEG provisions and to further delay the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill that has yet to go for second reading, after it was tabled for first reading last June.
The Malaysian Pharmacists Society, the Malaysian Medical Association, the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, and the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy have demanded the reinstatement of liquid nicotine into the Poisons List amid delay of the tobacco bill, after Dr Zaliha overrode unanimous objection from the Poisons Board to deregulate liquid nicotine last March 31.