CAP warns MPs against falling for industry's move to subvert tobacco control bill

GEORGE TOWN: The tabling of the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill at Dewan Rakyat yesterday marked a significant step in implementing Malaysia's obligations under the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), says the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP).

Malaysia, it said, had ratified the FCTC on Sept 16, 2005.

Welcoming the move, CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader said the bill was long overdue.

"In taking the bill forward, the Health Ministry is rightfully standing up for the health of all Malaysians by implementing its international legally binding obligations, and protecting future generations with its courageous introduction of the generational endgame provision for all Malaysians born on Jan 1, 2007 onwards," he said.

Mohideen said CAP's monitoring of the tobacco industry over the years had revealed many "industry antics" to circumvent and subvert the FCTC implementation, claiming this was also seen in other countries.

"CAP condemns the blatant move by tobacco industry lobbyists to attempt to interfere in the heart of Parliament as revealed in social media postings.

"As such, we call on all members of parliament (MPs) to immediately declare their interests or those of their officials and employees in the tobacco industry.

"This interference is in direct violation of a key provision in the FCTC," he added.

Yesterday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tabled for first reading the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill, also known as tobacco generational endgame (GEG) law, aimed at snuffing the smoking habit and protecting the health of Malaysians.

The law would apply to those born in 2007 onwards, and not 2005 as initially proposed.

Khairy had said that the second reading (debate) and third reading would be done in this meeting.

If passed, Malaysia will not only ban smoking but also prohibit the ownership of tobacco and vape products by those born after 2007.

Mohideen cited Article 5.3 of the FCTC, which stated that: "In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law".

He said that in November 2008, the FCTC parties adopted guidelines to implement Article 5.3 on the protection of public health policies with respect to tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

He said according to the WHO, "the purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that efforts to protect tobacco control from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry are comprehensive and effective."

The spread of the tobacco epidemic, he said, is facilitated through a variety of complex factors with cross-border effects, including trade liberalisation and direct foreign investment.

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