Malaysia's upper house passes tobacco law

Malaysia's upper house passes tobacco law

According to the "Star" report, the upper house of the Malaysian Parliament passed the "Public Health Smoking Products Control Bill 2023". The legislation had earlier been approved by the country's lower house.

The legislation prohibits the sale and purchase of tobacco products, smoking materials or smoking alternatives, and prohibits the provision of any smoking services to minors.

In an earlier version of the bill, a provision prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to individuals born after January 1, 2007, was removed.

The so-called intergenerational tobacco ban (GEG) was abandoned after the Attorney General's Office raised concerns that it could unconstitutionally create different rules for different age groups. However, critics blame pressure from the tobacco industry for Malaysia's U-turn.

A day earlier, Malaysia's newly appointed health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad expressed regret at GEG's exclusion.

He noted that 18 contact meetings and three roundtable discussions were held with stakeholders before the bill was finalized.

"However, it is human plan, it is God's decision, it is fate that has put us where we are today, and you cannot see or read the GEG provisions in this bill," Ahmed said. "I sincerely apologize. .”

In related news, new data shows that e-cigarettes have surpassed smoking as the primary way of consuming nicotine among Malaysian youths. According to the Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCO), the e-cigarette use rate in this age group is about 30%, compared with 12.5% for smoking.

The Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance also said: "Harm reduction claims are unsubstantiated and deceptive. Rather, it is the harm that begins with teenagers who have never smoked and is replaced by harm for smokers who are trying to quit smoking."

The group called on Malaysia to follow the lead of neighboring countries in banning e-cigarettes. Vaping products are banned in Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Thailand.
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