Health minister says smoking GEG dropped as it was unconstitutional, not because of lobbying

March 20, 2024 By 0

KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad today said the government discontinued a proposed law for a “generational endgame” to smoking because its discrimination would have been unconstitutional.

He denied that it was the industry lobbyists who influenced the government into removing the proposal from the last year.

“After looking at the Hansard and (getting) an explanation from the Deputy Health Minister (Lukanisman Awang), I found out that it was the Kapar MP (Dr Halimah Ali) who had mentioned issues of industry and lobbyists.

“While it was democratically right for lobbyists to hold engagements with MPs, the point that was raised by Deputy Health Minister claiming it influenced the government and the Cabinet is incorrect,” Dzulkefly told the Parliament when winding up the debate on the Supplementary Supply Bill (2023) 2024 today.

He said during his ministry’s assembly earlier today that the claims were “regrettable”.

“We wanted the GEG to be included (in the Act), however, an issue on constitutionality was raised by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

“That was the only reason why we dropped GEG from the proposed Act (last year),” he said.

Dzulkefly was responding to Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman who asked the minister to clarify the reason behind the government’s decision to drop the GEG provision from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 last year.

Last week, Lukanisman during Question Time on Thursday said the move to put an end to the habit of smoking and vaping should start with Parliament.

He said if looking at the experience of tabling the GEG, there were conflicting views. When industry players came to Parliament to meet MPs, it affected the decision.

He had then called for all MPs’ cooperation in the matter, at the same time called for all MPs to stop vaping in the Parliament building.

Lukanisman was responding to a supplementary question from Dr Halimah who asked about the government’s steps to tackle smoking and vaping and its triggers and pull, and if the government has the political will to free itself from the influence of industry players.

Last December, the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) had urged the newly appointed Health Minister to restore vape liquid — containing the addictive substance nicotine — to the Poisons List and for the GEG to recommence.