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Do not contest the judicial review, MCTC tells govt

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) today has appealed to the Health Ministry and the Attorney’s General Chambers (AGC) not to contest the judicial review it filed recently, to challenge the government’s directive to remove nicotine from the Poisons Act (PA) 1952.

Do not contest the judicial review, MCTC tells govt

MCTC president Dr M. Murallitharan said by doing so, it would show the government’s concern over the interest of public health.

“We appeal to the Health Ministry and the AGC among others, in the bigger interest of public health, not to contest the leave.

“In this case, we are not blaming anyone. We just wanted to reverse the decision for the sake of the public and our children.

“Hence, we call upon the government not to contest the leave. Let the issue go to court and let the court look at it from the legal perspective.

“This is not unprecedented, as there were a few cases that the government choose not to intervene, in the interest of public health and greater social welfare, such as on the decriminalisation of suicide move,” he told a press conference today.

Present was MCTC deputy president Roslizawati Md Ali, secretary-general Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah and Voice of the Children (VOC) chairman Sharmila Sekaran.

“We have seen that the legislative and executive bodies can make the best decisions.”

On Friday, MCTC along with the Malaysian Green Lung Association and VOC filed a judicial review to challenge the government’s directive to remove nicotine from the Poisons Act (PA) 1952.

They filed the suit at the High Court here, naming Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and the government as the first and second respondents, respectively.

The application claimed that Zaliha’s actions were disproportionate as she failed to protect public health and instead prioritised revenue collection.

On April 1, the Health Ministry published a gazette notice stating that nicotine liquids and gels used in e-cigarettes and vape products had been granted exemption from poison control.

Dr Murallitharan said MCTC has not resorted to filing the judicial review lightly.

“We have exhausted all avenues available to us by working with all the different branches of government to stave off this threat to the health of the public.”

These include constant engagement with the executive branch of the government through various government agencies to work to further tobacco control.

“We have reiterated many times that delisting nicotine would lead to this harmful substance being widely available to the public for consumption.

“The proper way to have gone about this would have been to put in controls first through a new Act, namely the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill, and then only delist nicotine so that it could be made available in vaping products which would, by then, be regulated under the Act.

“However, despite our best hopes and the best efforts of the Health Ministry in putting the

bill forward, the impression is that there is no adequate majority within lawmakers currently to pass it.

“The moving of the bill to the Parliamentary Select Committee, and with no sessions of parliament until October at the earliest means that this harmful substance continued to be widely available to the public for consumption.”

He said the availability of nicotine at present enables it to be bought, and used by children and young people, as visible from daily news stories on this, bringing about a whole new generation of nicotine addicts.

“(And) while waiting for the next parliament session, there will be another 5,000 to 10,000 children that will get addicted to nicotine.

“As such, MCTC has no recourse except to turn to the third branch of government, the judiciary, to assist us in protecting the health of all Malaysians.”

Meanwhile, at the press conference, MCTC also appealed to the public to donate to show support for its judicial review application.

“The public can donate at least RM1 per individual to express their support for this move.

“The funds raised will go towards defraying the legal costs of the judicial review and on public awareness activities on tobacco control.”

Source: New Straits Times

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