Frustrated over ‘bad move’

PETALING JAYA: Describing the latest development as “bad,” a public health expert has said that the inclusion of the generational end-game (GEG) provision in the proposed anti-smoking law could have potentially saved numerous lives.

However, with its removal from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health 2023 Bill, it appears that smoking is “here to stay,” said Datuk Dr NKS Tharmaseelan.

He added that the burden on the healthcare system will increase as the country sees more smoking-related illnesses.

“At present, only 4% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is spent on healthcare ... this may have to increase by many times to take care of smoking-related diseases. It will be unfair for non-smokers to contribute to the wantonly destructive attitude of smokers.

“Similarly, it will also impose a very heavy burden on the healthcare system. There will also be a need for more specialists, doctors, nurses, research, equipment and hospitals.

“Malaysia has yet to overcome drug addiction, even with some of the most draconian laws in the world.

“We probably need a lot more effort now by parents, teachers and society itself to address smoking,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) education officer NV Subbarow downplayed the constitutionality concerns raised by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), which said the GEG could contravene Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

“Any Bill can be challenged in court. Why is the AGC concerned about impending lawsuits?” he said.

Subbarow said findings and surveys by CAP showed that the number of teens who are either smoking cigarettes or vaping is increasing on a daily basis.

“Many countries are taking proactive measures against smoking and vaping, but Malaysia is going the opposite way.

“CAP is urging MPs to protect the future generation. Don’t allow smoking to kill our future generation.

“It is the duty of the Madani government to ensure a healthy lifestyle for children and youths,” he added.

However, Subbarow lauded the new Bill’s provision where guilty underage smokers can be fined a maximum of RM500, given community service, or both.

“The authorities should call the parents of offenders before issuing fines or enforcing community service.

“If the offenders repeat their mistake, then the school must take stern action,” he said.

Clause 17(1) of the Bill prohibits minors from smoking, chewing or using any tobacco product or smoking any substitute tobacco product.

Minors who violate this shall be fined not more than RM500 or be ordered to do community service pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Code or the Child Act 2001.

According to Clause 13 2(a) of the Bill, a person found to have committed an offence of selling tobacco products, smoking substance or substitutes for smoking products or providing any services for smoking to a minor shall be fined not more than RM20,000 or imprisoned for not more than a year or both.

If the offence is committed a second time, the individual will be liable to a fine of up to RM30,000, two years’ imprisonment, or both.

Corporate bodies committing the same offence will be fined not less than RM20,000 and not more than RM100,000. They will also be subject to imprisonment of up to two years or both.

The Bill proposes that for repeat offences, the corporate body shall be fined between RM50,000 and RM300,000, jailed for up to three years, or both.

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