‘Big tobacco stopped GEG’

Spilling the beans: Lukanisman speaking during Minister’s question time at the Dewan Rakyat. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Pressure from tobacco companies – with industry players even meeting MPs in Parliament – led to the exclusion of the Generational Endgame (GEG) component from the revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health 2023 Bill.

In a shocking admission, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Lukanisman Awang Sauni said tobacco and vape industry players had met with MPs in the august House.

He said this direct industry pressure had resulted in conflicting views during debates over the Bill.

“If we look at our experience when we tabled GEG, a conflict of views arose due to industry pressure. The industry entered Parliament, and the industry met with Members of Parliament, which influenced the decision.

“On pressure from the industry – we need support from all quarters,” Lukanisman said during Minister’s question time in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Additionally, he urged MPs to avoid letting vape advertisements influence them.

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“We should not be easily influenced by vape advertisements, as vapes are items that can easily attract the attention of children.”

Lukanisman was responding to a supplementary question by Dr Halimah Ali (PN-Kapar), who had asked him about possible lobbying from the tobacco and vape industries.

On Nov 28 last year, the Health Ministry announced the removal of the GEG element from the revised Bill tabled for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat.

The Bill was then passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Nov 30 after two days of debate, with it later also being passed by the Dewan Negara on Dec 14.

The GEG element in the Bill sought to ban those born in 2007 and onwards from smoking or purchasing smoking products. However, those provisions were dropped in the final Bill that was passed, with leaders saying the move was due to constitutional reasons.

Lukanisman’s admission, however, gives credence to claims that lobbyists were behind the axing of the GEG provisions.

Under the World Health Organisation framework, which Malaysia has ratified, governments must protect their policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

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