Dr Zaliha: GEG pushed aside but not forgotten

KUALA LUMPUR: The generational end-game (GEG) provision has been pushed aside but not forgotten entirely, says Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

The Health Minister stated that the exclusion of the GEG from the revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health 2023 Bill was based on the Attorney General’s Chambers’ (AGC’s) concerns about the constitutionality of the GEG, which sought to ban individuals born from 2007 onwards from smoking or purchasing smoking products.

The AGC expressed concerns that the GEG contradicts Article 8 of the Federal Constitution by creating unequal legal treatment between a person born before Jan 1, 2007, and a person born on or after Jan 1, 2007.

“We sought a lot of views. The AG has given the views that the matter relates to Article 8 and it can be challenged (in court),” she told reporters at the briefing in Parliament yesterday.

To address the loopholes resulting from the delisting of nicotine gel from the Poison’s Act 1954 and the regulation of vaping, the ministry had to prioritise key issues.

Although GEG was removed from the Bill, it still incorporates provisions to regulate products like vaping and protect underage individuals.

Dr Zaliha said the ministry will monitor the situation once the Bill takes effect.

“If we feel that there is a need to relook at the possibility of GEG, maybe then we will bring it back. But I am not giving any timelines,” she said.

“We have not forgotten entirely. We are pushing it aside and focusing on the priorities.”

When asked about the inclusion of the GEG in previous versions of the Bill, despite the AGC’s assertion that it was consistent with its views since 2022, she said the question should be directed to her predecessor, Khairy Jamaluddin.

“That one, you have to ask KJ (Khairy). I was made to understand that the AGC has been consistent with (the views) that Article 8 can be challenged. KJ chose to persist,” she said.

“We are a new government, and we choose to seek the views of federal agencies, especially the AGC. That is why we arrived at the decision to table the Bill without GEG.”

On Khairy’s reaction to the Bill, Dr Zaliha stated that it was his personal view.

Earlier on Tuesday, Khairy, the chief architect of the bill, said the strong lobbying by tobacco industry players is the reason the GEG provision was dropped.

While this may be a victory for the Big Tobacco and vape industries, the former Health minister emphasised that the battle to safeguard Malaysians’ health is far from over.

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