SERDANG: The Health Ministry is seriously looking into banning electronic cigarettes, says Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
In the first function he launched since helming the ministry, Dr Dzulkefly said he would be discussing the issue with his officers.
“I don’t want to be presumptuous on how we go about it but we are committed to going along in that direction (banning e-cigarettes),” he told reporters after the national-level World No Tobacco Day 2018 celebration here yesterday.
The theme for this year was “Tobacco and Heart Disease – Towards a Generation Without Smoking”.
In 2015, then health minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam called for a ban on e-cigarettes but the Cabinet decided against it.
The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, too, has in the past recommended that it be banned.
Asked when the Tobacco Products Control and Smoking Bill would be tabled in Parliament, deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar said the draft was with the ministry’s legal adviser for vetting.
Dr Dzulkefly said he hoped to table it in Parliament as soon as possible.
The Bill was being strengthened to ensure maximum control – in line with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, he said.
“The Bill will control the use of tobacco products and other things related to smoking and will also monitor e-cigarettes and other smoking products in future,” he said.
Currently, the cost of treatment for three main diseases – coronary heart disease, lung cancer and chronic lung diseases – as a result of cigarette smoking was RM3bil a year, he noted.
A patient who suffers from lung cancer requires RM42,000 in treatment a year, chronic lung diseases RM32,000 and coronary heart disease RM21,000.
Dr Dzulkefly said the Pakatan Harapan government would maintain the price of cigarettes following the abolition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) today.
“There will not be any decrease in price. That is our commitment to ensure that the prohibitive price is one of the ways to prevent cigarette use,” he added.
Currently, a pack of 20-stick cigarettes ranges from RM12 to RM17 a box.