PUTRAJAYA: Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (pix) is confident the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 which will be tabled at Dewan Rakyat next month after finalising several amendments will receive the support of the majority of members of Parliament.
He said the bill is still being reviewed and studied by a Parliamentary Select Committee and so far discussions are proceeding smoothly with committee members studying the proposed amendments.
“In principle, the majority of the members of Parliament agreed with the bill. In fact, in the letter written by Opposition Leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to the prime minister, it was also mentioned that on the whole, opposition members of Parliament from Pakatan Harapan supported the bill.
“It’s just that they asked for some amendments to be made so that enforcement powers are clarified, fines are clarified and so on. I believe that most of these issues have been resolved in the committee,“ he told reporters during an interview on his one year of achievements as Minister of Health.
On Aug 2, the Dewan Rakyat agreed that the Tobacco Product and Smoking Control Bill 2022 be referred to a Parliamentary Select Committee to examine and make recommendations for improvement, when the bill was in the second reading.
The bill, which among other things will prohibit the sale and use of any form of smoking material including electronic cigarettes or vaping to individuals born on Jan 1, 2007 onwards, was deemed to limit the freedom of choice by some members of Parliament after it was tabled in July.
It also outlined provisions for the registration of tobacco products, smoking materials or tobacco substitute products, in addition to controlling advertising, promotion and sponsorship, sales and purchases of tobacco products, smoking materials, tobacco substitute products or smoking devices.
Khairy said the select committee has met three times and he will bring the streamlined bill to its meeting next week to be approved.
In the meantime, Khairy said the bill was drafted to enable the control of all types of smoking products including electronic cigarettes and he saw it as very important to be approved given that the problem of using electronic cigarettes has become more prevalent among children.
Asked how the Health Ministry (MOH) dealt with the interests of the people and the industry regarding the importance of the bill, Khairy said the MOH has given explanations to professional bodies and non-governmental organisations through a series of engagements on why electronic cigarettes need to be regulated as tobacco products. and was not fully banned as implemented in Thailand, Brunei and Singapore.
“The sales ban has been communicated to the industry and stakeholders involved through a series of engagements that have been carried out. What is clear, their business is not affected because they can still carry out transactions with controls under this bill to groups other than who were born on 1 Jan 2007 onwards,“ he said.
IN JOHOR BAHRU, Khairy said the amendments made were very reasonable and could further strengthen the acceptance of members of Parliament on the bill.
“The act has been refined, some amendments have been made to clarify enforcement powers and clarify punishments, fines and so on,“ he told reporters after officiating the 25th Joint Malaysia-Singapore Nursing Conference 2022 today.
The Select Committee comprised 12 members of Parliament from government and opposition blocs to study several amendments.
It comprised Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim; Datuk Mohd Nizar Zakaria (Parit); Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (Pengerang); Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (Masjid Tanah) and Ahmad Fadhli Shaari (Pasir Mas).
It is also made of Sibuti MP Lukanisman Awang Sauni; Dr. Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (Bandar Kuching); R. Sivarasa (Sungai Buloh); Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor); Datuk Seri Madius Tangau (Tuaran); Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking (Penampang) and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun).-Bernama