Cabinet Approves Weaker Tobacco Bill Decoupled From GEG

Cabinet has approved a weaker revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill presented by MOH that is decoupled from the tobacco and vape GEG. The bill has been approved for tabling next week, but it’s unclear if there’s time due to other bills.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 – The Cabinet approved today revisions to the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 that dropped provisions related to the generational end game (GEG).

Cabinet’s decision at its meeting came after Attorney-General Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh said in a statement last Saturday that the GEG proposal to ban tobacco and vape products for anyone born from 2007 could be challenged in court because it violated Article 8 of the Federal Constitution that guarantees equality before the law.

“KKM paper passed. No GEG,” a source told CodeBlue on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to speak to the press. 

The source added that the Cabinet has also approved the bill for tabling in the Dewan Rakyat next week, “but not sure can table in time; there are other bills too”.

With such a significant policy shift to the tobacco and vape control bill – which has always been touted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) as a “GEG bill” – it is unclear if the bill will have to be tabled all over again as a completely new bill for first reading, or if it will continue to be tabled for second reading for debate and passage.

Next week will be the last in the current Dewan Rakyat meeting that ends on November 30. 

Tabling of the tobacco bill on Monday will likely be out of the question as Budget 2024 is expected to be passed then after completion of debates. That leaves just three days for the tobacco bill; there are at least two other bills slated for second reading, according to the Order Paper, before the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill.

The government also previously indicated its intention to table amendments to the Federal Constitution in the current parliamentary meeting for first reading to resolve the issue of the citizenship of children born to Malaysian mothers abroad, together with other matters related to citizenship for stateless people. This is a highly contentious issue that will likely consume parliamentarians’ time.

Both Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad and former Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin – as head and former head of the current Health parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) and PSSC for the tobacco bill respectively – have come out to dispute AG Terrirudin’s claim that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has always been “consistent”, since 2022, in its stance that the tobacco GEG is unconstitutional.

If the government fails to table or get the tobacco bill passed in the current Dewan Rakyat meeting, e-cigarettes and vape with nicotine will continue to be able to be legally sold to children for months more, ever since liquid nicotine was removed from the list of controlled substances under the Poisons Act 1952 last March 31.

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