December 1, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – After multiple reviews and fine-tuning, the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health 2023 finally received the nod of approval from the Dewan Rakyat.
The Bill which was passed unanimously in the third reading on the last day of the sitting yesterday, also fulfilled the promise by Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa that it will be tabled in the Lower House.
The original Bill, which was known as the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, was first tabled by then Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin last year.
It was later sent to the committee for fine-tuning due to resistance from several lawmakers.
This was done after the Bill was tabled for the first reading. It was then tabled for its first reading in June this year before being sent to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) for further review.
Dr Zaliha previously said that referring the Bill to the PSSC was to allow the committee to make the necessary recommendations to further fine-tune the laws for the generational endgame (GEG).
Before the passing of the Bill yesterday, its latest version also drew ire from health community and lawmakers as the GEG provision was dropped from the Bill.
The debate session by more than 25 lawmakers from both sides grilled Dr Zaliha for withdrawing the GEG.
The Health Minister said the reason was to prevent any future court cases as the Attorney-General Chambers raised concerns that the clause was unconstitutional, providing unequal opportunities for those born after 2007.
The new law will impose regulations on the sale of tobacco and vape products affecting “minors” after removing an earlier proposal to ban those born after Jan 1, 2007, from smoking.
Dr Zaliha, when wrapping up the Bill yesterday, hit back saying it is pertinent to pass the comprehensive Bill that touched on control of smoking and smoking replacement products.
“It needs to be implemented promptly. As for GEG, there are opinions and some disagreements. We will see after the enforcement of this Bill.
“We will continue to monitor the impact of this Bill on the decline in smoking prevalence, and so on. God willing, if necessary, we will bring back the GEG issue,” she told the Lower House.
Among the measures that will be implemented under the new law, Dr Zaliha said enforcement officers will be equipped with body cameras to nab those flouting the anti-smoking laws.
She said this is line with the approval given for health enforcement officers to don body cameras during operations to enforce various health regulations last year.
She said that officers faced various risks and challenges during operations including being accused with allegations.
“The recordings can serve as a defence in the event there are claims or allegations made against them,” she said.
She said the use of the body cameras would help improve professionalism among officers and integrity of the ministry as a whole.