GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) has expressed disappointment that the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023, dubbed the generational end game (GEG) bill, has once again been referred to the parliamentary special committee (PSSC).
"How many times must it be referred to the PSSC?
"This is a very important bill which will save hundreds of thousands of lives of the future generation. Day by day, hundreds of school children, students, youths and young girls are addicted to these nicotine habits.
"The more the members of parliament (MP) delay, the more we are going to see a nicotine addict on the road," CAP education and anti-smoking activist N.V. Subbarow said.
The Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023, dubbed the GEG bill, was tabled for its first reading in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the bill would take into consideration recommendations by the PSSC and stakeholders before it was presented to the Cabinet.
"After taking into consideration the engagement sessions with the PSSC on health on June 6, as well as with MPs, professionals and non-governmental organisations, there were requests that some matters are scrutinised further.
"This bill is crucial; undivided support from all parties is needed. The ministry decided to refer the bill to the PSSC, where it would serve as a check-and-balance mechanism that will take into account views of all parties," she told the lower house in tabling the bill.
Subbarow said CAP did not understand why the bill was referred to the PSSC without any debate.
Subbarow said, after hearing that the bill would be referred to the PSSC, many parents and concerned teachers were very disappointed.
"They are very upset with the Health Ministry. This is because they believe that the ministry will take some healthy measures to overcome the nicotine-based liquids, which are being sold to the young, as low as eight-years-old to use in the vape.
"Parents, teachers and concerned non-government organisations (NGO) are very disappointed that, at the end, there are no concrete decisions made in Parliament today but were referred to the PSSC.
"The teachers fear that there will be more problems in schools as there are no concrete decisions on this issue. The teachers are facing lots of social problems in the schools on vaping issues.
"According to many teachers contacted by CAP, they confirmed that boys and girls are bringing vape gadgets to schools daily without any fear. It is not the duty of teachers to check this issue on students. Teachers have so many other issues (to deal with).
"As such, CAP urged the ministry to pass the bill without any delay in this Parliament session and not table it in the coming sessions," she added.
Subbarow said CAP feared that the rakyat would get angry with the MPs who did not understand the dangers of tobacco, vape and poison nicotine juices sold to the vapers.
"The concept of the Madani government is a caring government. But on this issue, the government is going to produce more nicotine addicts.
"As such, we urge the ministry not to delay anymore on passing the tobacco bill for the safety of the future generation," he said.