KUALA LUMPUR, 5th Oct 2023 – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) is disappointed with the government’s decision to maintain the generational endgame in the Smoking Product Control Bill for Public Health 2023 which will be presented on Tuesday next week for the second reading.
Tarmizi Anuwar is disappointed because there are not many changes that will be made by the government in this bill despite having gone through the evaluation process twice at the special select committee level when maintaining the implementation of the generational endgame.
He holds the view that the government should take into account the views of various parties in a serious and fair manner when the dealings are held and adopt a policy approach based on evidence. Consumers have given suggestions for improvement, but they are not taken seriously.
With this implementation, of course, the effort to reduce smokers in Malaysia will be in vain because the implementation of this generational endgame will increase the demand for black market cigarettes in Malaysia.
Until now, illegal cigarettes in Malaysia remained high at 55.3 percent in May this year, with only a slight decrease from 56.6 percent in 2022. Although it has been many years, there is still no serious and effective strategy to combat contraband cigarettes in the country.
In response to Commonwealth Medical Association President Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai’s statement that if this bill is not passed then children will be exposed to vaping without restriction, Tarmizi said this is a misleading statement because vaping can be regulated without having to go through the generational endgame.
We at CCC have long urged the government to immediately regulate vaping in a wise and coherent way. Otherwise, users will only continue to access unregulated products.
To prevent underage vaping, we propose smart regulations and enforce strict age restrictions on vape devices and liquids at the point of sale and use modern authentication technology for online sales.
This regulation can be done without the need to go through the generational endgame and has been successfully proven in Sweden. The first smoke-free country has succeeded in reducing the smoking rate from 15 percent to 5.6 percent in 15 years through a strategy of providing alternative products widely and well-informed.
In addition, according to Tarmizi, the government’s proposal to introduce fines to buyers of either cigarettes or vapes who have reached the age of 18 in the GEG group will burden consumers.
A big challenge is if those under the generational endgame category have started smoking cigarettes and want to quit smoking, but do not have access to alternative products.This will make it difficult for them to stop and at the same time continue to risk being fined if caught. This environment does not help the user to quit and is even more burdensome.
We believe that smokers should have access to viable alternative nicotine products with significantly lower negative health effects compared to cigarettes.