It’s about time, but it’s just the first step, says MCTC

PETALING JAYA: The passing of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health 2023 Bill is long overdue given that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of deaths in the country, says the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC).

Its president Prof Datuk Dr Lekhraj Rampal said having the Bill passed was more important at this juncture than the Generational Endgame (GEG) provision.

“Personally, it was high time to get the Bill passed as GEG is not necessary because the idea is to control tobacco and its (related) products. MPs must be aware of their responsibilities and not allow the tobacco industry to influence the Bill.

“The taxes collected from this industry should be put to good use, where a portion goes to helping smokers quit, creating awareness and educating as well as providing preventive measures,” he told The Star following the passing of the Bill yesterday.

With more than 28,600 smoking-related deaths in Malaysia annually, tobacco control needs a boost and a long-term solution, he added.

He said now was the time to regulate it strictly as deaths due to smoking should not occur.

Having the Bill passed would enable stricter and more consistent enforcement on smoking, said Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer Dr Saravanan Thambirajah.

He said it was vital to tackle blatant ignorance of the smoking ban by irresponsible individuals, such as those who smoke in eateries or parks where there are children.

“Now that the Bill has been passed, the next step is to look into the vape industry, which needs to be regulated,” he said.

However, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) education officer NV Subbarow expressed his disappointment over the removal of the GEG provision.

He said Malaysia was taking a step back by doing so while other countries were taking positive measures to kill the “tobacco fever.”

“It is the greatest disappointment when GEG was left out of the Bill,” he said.

He urged MPs to visit schools to see the real issues stemming from vaping and smoking.

Presently, he added there were many shops including those on the roadside promoting vape, ecigarettes and nicotine liquids.

“So, we have to start with an awareness programme on the dangers of vaping, smoking cigarettes and ecigarettes which everyone can sell.

“This is because we cannot rely on teachers to counsel students, which is why the GEG was a vital element to kill the habit of smoking,” he said.

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