Kuala Lumpur, 12 June 2023 — The Government’s recent decision to refer the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023 to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Health at the First Reading, rather than proceed to the next stage, is both surprising and disappointing.
Allowing the Bill to proceed to Second Reading, would have allowed for open debate, transparency of opinion and consideration of its merits.
The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy calls on the PSSC on Health, under the leadership of Datuk Seri Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad, to swiftly convene a meeting and immediately send the Bill back to the Dewan Rakyat for Second Reading, debate, Third Reading, and vote before the end of this Parliamentary meeting.
“The Health Minister opened Pandora’s Box when she signed the order last March to remove liquid and gel nicotine used in the production of vape and e-cigarettes from the list of controlled substances scheduled under the Poisons Act 1952,” remarked Azrul Mohd Khalib, Chief Executive of the Galen Centre.
“This move not only shocked those who work in public health and tobacco control here in Malaysia but also internationally, eliciting a strong response and statement on vape and e-cigarettes from the Director General of the World Health Organisation on 2 June.”
“It must be remembered that this exemption order went against the recommendations of the Poisons Board. It had unanimously rejected this proposal in March for good reason,” Azrul pointed out.
“There are still no legal frameworks or regulations currently governing the production, packaging, marketing, sale and use of these devices, prior to declassification. With the Health Minister’s order, there are now absolutely no safeguards which prevent the sale of e-cigarettes and vape products of high nicotine concentration to anyone, including minors.”
“We are already seeing the consequences. Children, teenagers, youth especially young women, are now the targets of aggressive promotional, marketing and sales campaigns by retailers and manufacturers. More vape and e-cigarettes are being produced which are deliberately made to look colourful, have sweet juices, and designs which appeal to young people,” Azrul highlighted.
“Recent studies and cases by the Ministry of Health are already reporting seeing more teenagers taking up vape and e-cigarettes, becoming addicted to nicotine, and even becoming seriously ill as a result of respiratory diseases. Why is the government ignoring its own data and evidence?”
“The unregulated and unchecked status of vape and e-cigarettes constitutes a clear and present public health threat in Malaysia. None of these issues or problems can be properly addressed and overcome without the proper legislation in place,” Azrul emphasised.
“No more excuses, ifs and buts. The Government and Members of Parliament must be pragmatic, find both the right compromises, and the moral courage to step up and do the right thing. If this means that we must temporarily shelve the Generational Endgame provisions to guarantee passage of this Bill, then so be it. We urgently need the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill to be passed in Parliament now.”