Minister: No raising GEG age limit, not cost-effective

Dr Zaliha: We are ready to table the Bill with amendments.

PETALING JAYA: There are no plans to raise the age limit for the generational endgame (GEG) policy that will ban smoking and vaping for those born after 2007 to 21 years old as suggested by some groups, says Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

The Health Minister said it would be more “cost-effective” for the ministry to continue with the GEG provision rather than raising the age limit.

“The ministry introduced the Tobacco Products and Smoking Control Bill in Parliament last year up to the second reading.

“The Bill then was referred to the Parliamentary Select Committee for further revision.

“The Health Ministry is now ready to table the Bill again with the amendments based on the recommendations, at the next parliamentary sitting in June this year,” she told The Star yesterday.

Last Sunday, a coalition of NGOs, private rehabilitation centres and substance abuse related service providers under the Malaysian Substance Abuse Council (Masac) suggested the age limit for vaping be raised from 18 to 21 to minimise the abuse of vape liquids that may contain drugs.

Masac secretary-general Raja Azizan Suhaimi also said only locally manufactured vape liquids in sealed glass bottles should be allowed to be sold in the country to curb other substances from being added.

The Bill will have a more comprehensive scope to regulate all tobacco products including ecigarettes and will also prohibit those born on or after Jan 1, 2007 from the sale, purchase, and usage of any form of tobacco-related products including ecigarettes in a move to phase out smoking among the younger generation.

Dr Zaliha said the two main components of this Bill were the control of smoking products and provision of GEG, which are both important to ensure the objectives of the Bill to reduce the number of smokers and prevent new smokers among the young generation in Malaysia.

“The Health Ministry envisions a healthier nation, free from all smoking habits including vaping.

“The age group with the highest prevalence of smoking in Malaysia is between 20 and 49.

“Moreover, the cost of treating diseases related to smoking is estimated to reach RM8.77bil by 2030, which is very high,” she said.

The enforcement for the GEG provision would be implemented in phases, she added.

Dr Zaliha also said that the Health Ministry had incorporated a provision in the Bill, which required the registration of all tobacco and vaping products before their sale in the market.

This was because the government recognised the risk for ecigarettes or vapes to be used for illicit substance abuse.

“This clause ensures that the products being sold adhere to the government’s regulations, thereby preventing the inclusion of illicit drugs or harmful substances in ecigarette liquids,” she said.

Dr Zaliha said since the development of the Bill in 2015, the Health Ministry has engaged with various key stakeholders such as health NGOs, professional bodies, Parent-Teacher Associations and both tobacco and vape industries.

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