GEORGE TOWN: After much attention over the delay in tabling the revised anti-smoking Bill, Dr Zaliha Mustafa says it will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat before the end of the month.
“God willing, I assure you that this Bill will be tabled by us before the end of the current Parliament meeting on Nov 30, thank you,” the Health Minister told reporters after officiating the Program Madani Afiat dan Jelajah Agenda Nasional Malaysia Sihat at SMK Bukit Gambir here yesterday.
She was responding to a question on the tabling of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, which also includes provisions for what is widely known as the Generational Endgame (GEG).
Under GEG, individuals born on Jan 1, 2007, and after are barred from smoking or purchasing cigarettes or other tobacco products, including vapes.
Previously, Dr Zaliha had said the Bill would be tabled for a second reading in Parliament on Oct 10 after receiving the nod from the Cabinet on Oct 4 to proceed with the proposed law.
However, the second reading was postponed to make way for government affairs in Parliament.
The current Parliament meeting began on Oct 9 and will wrap up on Nov 30.
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Budget 2024 is expected to be passed at the committee stage on Nov 27 before Parliament sits for another three days for other government affairs.
Last week, former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin – the architect of GEG – sparked a war of words with several Cabinet Ministers when he bristled over the stalling of the Bill in a series of posts on Instagram.
Among the ministers was Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who later issued a statement to say that “all ministers have the prerogative as members of the Cabinet to present their views on any matter, including the paper on this Bill, but ultimately the Cabinet is collectively responsible for the decision made”.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Law and Institutional Reforms also said the Attorney General’s Chambers had presented to the Cabinet its legal views on the GEG.
In response, Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said “a law that’s unenforceable and unconstitutional will cost the government millions. Not supporting GEG does not mean I support smoking or vaping”.
Subsequently, Khairy said he was disappointed with Dr Zaliha for not correcting Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing when the latter claimed that Khairy, as the then health minister, had failed to provide definitive proof that smoking was linked to cancer.
Tiong has been vocal about his opposition to the legislation.