GEG bill: Government urged to reduce fines for juvenile offenders

KUALA LUMPUR: The parliamentary special select committee reviewing the tobacco generational endgame (GEG) bill wants the government to make major changes to the bill that will be retabled at the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow.

These include lower fines and community service for minors, exempting criminal records for offenders and criminalising only consumption and not possession of smoking and vaping products.

The committee, in a report released today, recommended the government reduce fines from RM5,000 to RM500 for juvenile offenders and include community service as a punishment.

It also proposed for the government to limit the scope of enforcement to manufacturing, packaging, storage, submission, distribution and sales of tobacco products.

"The committee also agrees and recommends that enforcement powers on premises should exclude residential areas.

"We also agree and suggest for Clause 17 of the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 — that confers powers on enforcement officers to stop, search, seal vehicles as well as have access to information records and computerised data — to be excluded."

Under Clause 17, those born in and after 2007 will be barred from smoking, vaping and possession of these items.

However, the committee proposed for the government to focus only on restricting the consumption of smoking and vaping products and exclude the possession and ownership of these substances from the law.

"The committee takes into account the Attorney-General's Chambers' view that no criminal record will be registered for offences under this bill unless intended so.

"Therefore, there is no necessity to introduce a special provision to state the non-registrability of smoking offences under sub-clause 17(1).

"The committee is also aware of the proposal to defer the enforcement of Clause 17 and will be enforced through education for three years after the bill is passed.

"The committee agrees that the focus should be on educational activities for the specified period and this can be done administratively and need not be stated in the bill."

However, the committee dismissed the need to enact a separate act and regulations for non-combustible alternatives and said it should be maintained under this bill.

It affirmed that the implementation of GEG will not contradict with the Constitution.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tabled the GEG Bill for first reading on July 27 but stopped short of putting it to vote in the previous Dewan Rakyat sitting.

The bill is expected to be retabled tomorrow.

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