Dr Zaliha: Health Ministry to table new bill on regulating nicotine products in May

PETALING JAYA: A new bill to regulate all smoking products containing nicotine will be tabled soon in the next Parliament sitting next month, says Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

Dr Zaliha said the new bill was to ensure thorough regulation on nicotine liquids and gel used in e-cigarettes and vape products.

Dr Zaliha also said her ministry had held several engagement sessions over the matter.

"The Health Ministry conducted engagement sessions regarding policies under this new bill, including provisions under the Generational Endgame (GEG) bill to all stakeholders such as MPs, NGOs, professional bodies and other related groups," said Dr Zaliha.

The next Parliament sitting will commence on May 22.

In a statement on Saturday (April 1), Dr Zaliha said the Health Ministry had taken into account concerns raised on social media regarding the decision to exclude nicotine products from the Poisons List.

"This exemption is in line with the decision made during the tabling of Budget 2023 by the Prime Minister, who stated that the government will introduce excise duty on nicotine liquid or gel products used for electronic cigarettes and vapes," added Dr Zaliha.

Dr Zaaliha also said nicotine liquid and gel were now taxable items which falls under the purview of the Excise Act 1976.

"The Excise Act has regulatory provisions such as the licensing of manufacturing and warehousing activities involving this industry.

"Any one who manufactures such goods without license can be subjected to legal action," said Zaliha.

At the same time, Dr Zaliha said the Health Ministry would increase awareness campaigns regarding the dangers of smoking by holding smoking prevention and intervention programs in high schools and higher education institutions by cooperating with the Education Ministry, the Higher Education Ministry, and several other groups.

The exemption of nicotine products was announced in a gazette notice published on Friday (March 31).

The Health Ministry said exemption from poisons control had been granted for nicotine liquids and gel used for e-cigarettes and vape products.

Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control also accused Dr Zaliha of using her ministerial powers to overrule the Poisons Board, which voted against exempting nicotine liquids and gel from the Poisons Act.

Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib described the decision to exclude nicotine products from the Poisons Act as an exceptionally regressive move that stunned many who work in public health, especially those in tobacco control.

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