Anti-smoking bill passed by Dewan Negara

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Negara today passed the Control of Tobacco Products for Public Health 2023 Bill.

The bill, presented by the Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, includes provisions such as prohibiting the sale and purchase of tobacco products, smoking materials, or tobacco substitute products, as well as providing any smoking services to minors.

It also witnessed the removal of provisions related to the Generational End Game provision (GEG), which prohibits the sale of tobacco products and cigarettes, as well as smoking for those born on or after Jan 1, 2007.

The bill containing Clauses 1 to 54 was presented again for the second reading in the Dewan Negara yesterday, before being presented for the third reading today and debated by 22 members of the Dewan Negara.

During the debate, Dzulkefly said the removal of GEG from this bill was a collective decision and shared responsibility by the government after considering the Attorney-General's views.

"Based on the Attorney-General's view, there are issues of inequality and discrimination in the legal provisions of GEG, which means providing different treatment to those born before Jan 1, 2007, and those born after or on Jan 1, 2007.

"The concept of GEG will result in different treatments for two groups born in different years.

"Therefore, the Attorney General believes that this provision can be challenged in court as it conflicts with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution," he said.

The Dewan Negara also passed the Food Bill (Amendment) 2023 to amend the Food Act 1983, in line with the approval of the Control of Tobacco Products for Public Health 2023 Bill.

The bill contains four clauses presented by Dzulkefly to amend the Food Act 1983 (Act 281) to ensure no contradictions or overlaps between these legislations.

Earlier, Dewan Negara president, Tan Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, reminded the members of the Dewan Negara not to interrupt when a minister is presenting a bill in the session.

"When a minister is presenting, it's never allowed to interrupt because what is presented concerns the stance, views, and government policies and is irrelevant to us (Senators)… that's usually the practice and tradition," he said.

However, he mentioned that Senators are allowed to interrupt when a minister is concluding a debate motion provided they stand and the respective minister allows for it.

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