Generational endgame: Make the right decision, don’t be swayed by ‘false narrative’, MPs told

PETALING JAYA: Lawmakers should not be swayed by false industry narratives when voting on the new tobacco control Bill at the Dewan Rakyat.

Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) tobacco control coordinator Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah said that the industry narrative is a common misconception that only benefit the tobacco industry.

"The lawmakers have to understand the saying that imposing or increasing tax will promote black market is a statement by vested parties.

"We hope that lawmakers are aware of such misconceptions and make a sound decision when voting for the new Bill," he said in an interview recently.

Muhammad Sha'ani, who is also the Malaysia Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) secretary-general, said in implementing tobacco control measures, there is a need to understand industry interference undermining various public policies.

"Whenever there is a call for a review of tobacco tax, the industry narrative will follow.

"Sadly, tax on tobacco has not been increased for the last six years. If the argument is that reducing smoking will lead to a reduction in the government's coffers, they are actually spending more treating diseases caused by smoking," he added.

He was commenting on the Health Ministry's proposed tobacco generational endgame Bill whereby the proposed Tobacco and Smoking Control law, for children born on Jan 1, 2007, and onwards would be banned from buying cigarettes or vaping products even after reaching the legal smoking age of 18.

Labelling it as the right move, Muhammad Sha'ani said reducing smoking prevalence depended on increasing smoking cessation and reducing smoking initiation.

"The new Bill is definitely moving in the right direction. We hope lawmakers will support it when they are voting for the Bill," he said.

He said many tobacco control advocates are excited about the new Bill but it comes with reservations.

"We are aware of possible interference from the tobacco industry but we have to face it and move forward.

"We have to make relevant stakeholders understand the reality of the situation in the country. While there are those who are willingly benefiting from the tobacco industry, efforts must be made to prevent relevant stakeholders from inadvertently being influenced by industry narrative," he said.

Muhammad Sha'ani also called on political parties to stop talking about populice matters and instead focus on the dangers of smoking.

"Smoking is actually affecting the poor. When a smoker father prioritises his smoking addiction, the child is actually losing out on nutritious food.

"The common effects of tobacco habits are poverty and malnourishment. We cannot conveniently neglect such an impact on society," he said.

Muhammad Sha'ani said it is good that the new Bill includes vape

He said vapes have also become an industry with its own false narrative, whereby it is supposedly 95% safer compared with smoking.

"Reduction without any accompanying support services will not accomplish anything.

"Studies showed that cigarettes contain many other ingredients such as ammonia to increase nicotine uptake. Vape liquid also contains ammonia to provide a fast uptake with high doses. How can it be 95% safer," he asked.

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Fomca , Generational endgame , tobacco , vaping


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