Dewan Negara passes Control of Smoking Bill

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Negara passed the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 by voice vote on Thursday (Dec 14).

The Bill, tabled by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, among other things, prohibits the sale and purchase of tobacco products, smoking materials or tobacco substitute products and providing any services related to smoking to minors.

It also saw the removal of the provision for the generational end-game (GEG) prohibiting the sale of tobacco products and cigarettes, as well as banning individuals born on Jan 1, 2007 onwards, from smoking.

The Bill, containing Clauses 1 to 54, was tabled for the second reading in the Dewan Negara on Wednesday (Dec 13), before being presented for the third reading on Thursday and debated by the 22 members.

Dr Dzulkefly, when winding up the debate, said the removal of GEG from this Bill was a collective decision and shared responsibility by the government after taking into account the views of the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

"Based on the views of the AGC, there is an issue of inequality and discrimination of legal position in the provision of GEG, which means it gives differential treatment to people born before Jan 1, 2007, and those born after or on Jan 1, 2007.

"This GEG concept will cause differential treatment of two groups born in different years.

"Therefore the AGC is of the view that this provision can be challenged in court as it conflicts with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution (which guarantees equality),” he said.

The Bill contains four clauses that Dr Dzulkefly also tabled to amend the Food Act 1983 (Act 281) to ensure there is no conflict and duplication of provisions between these two pieces of legislation.

Meanwhile, the Dewan Negara also approved the Food (Amendment) Bill 2023 to amend the Food Act 1983, in line with the approval of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023.

Earlier, Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar reminded members of the senate not to interrupt when a minister was tabling a Bill.

"When a minister is tabling (a Bill), you are not allowed to interrupt because what is presented is about the government's stance, views and policies and has nothing to do with us (senators), that is the usual practice and tradition,” he said.

He said, however, senators are allowed to interject when a minister is winding up a motion for debate on the condition that he stands and the minister in question gives space.

"Because at that time, the floor is in the hands of the minister, when the minister is already seated, then you can ask the question,” he said.- Bernama

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