PETALING JAYA: Aware of the objections some Members of Parliament have against the proposed Tobacco and Smoking Bill, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is prepared to go the whole nine yards to see it become a reality.
He urged MPs to throw their support behind the Bill to be tabled in Parliament next week and not delay its implementation.
He added that his ministry had been engaging with various stakeholders, including vape industry players, who have expressed their support.
“There has been much support, including from health NGOs, many of which have issued statements urging MPs not to oppose the Bill,” he said.
Khairy said there was also fierce opposition against regulating vape products, so much so that health NGOs and the public asked for them to be totally banned.
However, going cold turkey would be tough for those who are already addicted.
“So we compromised to bring in the ‘Generational End Game’,” he said, referring to the proposed Bill.
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He added that he would be explaining these facts to the Cabinet next week when the Bill is tabled, and urged MPs to not use the excuse of illicit markets to vote against the it.
According to Khairy, the Health Ministry has got the full commitment of the Customs Department, the police and the Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to combat any black market for cigarettes and vape products.
“We have to go for a concerted, nationwide approach to fight the illicit market for all smuggled items, not just vape and cigarettes.
“I don’t deny that there are illicit markets, but don’t use this argument to vote against a law for public health,” he added.
Khairy urged the public to not support black markets and to instead help the nation end the smoking habit.
And the “lost tax revenue for the government” argument does not add up, either.
“Tax revenue from the tobacco industry amounts to about RM3bil but the amount we spend every year to treat heart and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are double the tax revenue from the industry and will reach RM8bil in 2030.
“Now tell me that you don’t want to stop smoking,” he told the media after launching Hematogenix, the first central oncology laboratory in Asia-Pacific, here, yesterday.
Under the proposed Bill, children born in 2005 and subsequent years are prohibited from smoking and buying or possessing any type of smoking product, including electronic cigarettes or vape products, even after reaching 18 years old.
Shopkeepers and cigarette vendors are also not allowed to sell smoking products to those covered by the ban.
Khairy said there will be no immediate impact on the tobacco industry as the ban on smoking will only affect those who were born in a certain year and not all smokers, which means they will not go out of business.
“This will not affect the economy overnight because those who are already smoking can carry on.
“There will be no immediate repercussions to businesses; the market will only be affected over time, little by little, until it fades out,” he added.