Woes In The Aftermath Of A Missed Opportunity: GEG Implementation In Malaysia — Dr Jason Chin Yu Aun

NCSM’s Dr Jason Chin calls for the reintroduction of the generational end game (GEG) tobacco/ vape ban to address Malaysia’s growing smoking and vaping epidemic. “We need strong political will to table the GEG once again and ensure its passage into law.”

A mother named Ms Suzy (not her real name) called me a few weeks ago, asking for help to help her son quit vaping. This was one of the many calls I get when working in National Cancer Society Malaysia’s (NCSM) quit smoking and vaping clinic. 

This is becoming the norm nowadays in the aftermath of the missed opportunity to implement the Generational End Game (GEG) in Malaysia. It is very common now to see adults, and even children, vaping and smoking cigarettes. 

This troubling reality has inspired me to pen this opinion piece, driven by a sense of responsibility to address this pressing issue.

The recent decoupling of the GEG from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill on November 6, 2023, marked a significant shift in the landscape of tobacco control in Malaysia. 

Originally intended to ban the sale of cigarettes and vaping products to those born on or after January 1, 2007, the GEG law was poised to be a game-changer in the fight against smoking and vaping-related illnesses. 

However, with its separation from the anti-tobacco law, we are now left with only the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 (Act 852), which includes provisions to restrict the sale of tobacco products to minors.

While this is a step in the right direction, it falls short of the comprehensive approach offered by the GEG.

Vapes have shown to bring complications such as E-Cigarette Vaping Associated Lung Injury (EVALI), which can lead to respiratory failure and hypoxic brain injury, with some requiring home oxygenation. 

Tobacco smoking can lead to complications such as stroke, heart attack, peripheral artery disease (PAD), and, worst of all, increases the risk of lung cancer by 15 to 30 times (1,500 per cent to 3,000 per cent) higher than normal. 

The increasing trend of smoking and vaping not only threatens individual health, but also burdens the health care system with the treatment of smoking-related illnesses.

Reinstating the GEG is crucial in addressing the growing epidemic of smoking and vaping. By banning the sale of cigarettes and vaping products to those born after January 1, 2007, we can effectively prevent a new generation from falling prey to nicotine addiction.

Moreover, the economic argument in favour of the GEG is compelling — it is far cheaper to implement preventive measures than to bear the long-term costs of treating smoking-related diseases. 

We need strong political will to table the GEG once again and ensure its passage into law. This requires collaboration across party lines and a commitment to putting the wellbeing of our citizens first.

In conclusion, the GEG offers a comprehensive solution to eliminate the scourge of smoking and vaping in Malaysia. 

By prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to future generations, we can mitigate the health risks associated with nicotine addiction and ultimately save lives. Now is the time to act decisively and reclaim control over our public health landscape.

Dr Jason Chin Yu Aun is a medical officer at the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM).

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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