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GEG Bill: MOH mulls doing away with compounds against child offenders [Updated]

The Health Ministry will be meeting the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) reviewing the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 today. – Pic courtesy Jabatan Penerangan

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry is considering the idea of doing away with compounds against child offenders under the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, which is expected to be tabled for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat next month.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said it was one of the recommendations by stakeholders, with some suggesting giving advice or imposing community service on the minors instead.

She said she would be meeting the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) reviewing the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 today.

“We will discuss on findings made by the select committee that has also done engagement sessions with stakeholders.

“We (the ministry) will then review them before proceeding with amendments to the bill, if necessary,” she told reporters after launching the Pre Conference of Parties (Pre-COP), Pre-Meeting of Parties (Pre-MOP) and Electronic Smoking Device (ESD) workshop, here, today.

Dr Zaliha said the proposed 65 per cent tax hike against tobacco products would also be discussed in the meeting.

She expressed hope that members of parliament would support the proposed law, dubbed the generational end game (GEG) bill.

“There would be opposition against the bill, no doubt. But I really hope that it would get the two-thirds majority for it to be passed,” she said.

The bill deals with not only conventional smoking products, but also “next generation” products, including electronic and combustible cigarette products.

It retains the GEG provision, affecting those born on Jan 1, 2007, onwards.

The ministry had referred the bill to the PSSC after it was tabled for the first reading in June.

The 2023 version of the bill incorporates amendments suggested by the PSSC last year, including a reduction in the maximum fine for GEG offenders from RM5,000 to RM500, and introduces a provision for community service as a way to educate and raise awareness.

Under the proposed law, those found guilty of selling any tobacco products or services for smoking to individuals born on Jan 1, 2007 and beyond face a maximum fine of RM20,000 and one year’s imprisonment, and a maximum RM30,000 fine and two years’ jail for each subsequent offence.

Meanwhile, corporations found guilty of the same offence face a maximum penalty of RM100,000 and two years’ jail for the first offence and a maximum fine of RM300,000 and three-year imprisonment for each subsequent offence.

Prohibitions were also extended to the sale of tobacco substitute products and smoking devices to the same age group.

The first version of the bill, then named “The Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022”, was first tabled in Parliament in July last year.

In her speech earlier, Dr Zaliha said the government pledged to uphold efforts to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco product in the preparatory meeting with World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

She said the discussions would allow the country to prepare for Conference of Parties (COP 10) that will be held Panama.

“We must actively engage in these discussions, share our knowledge and experiences, and collaborate effectively.

“Together, we can develop a unified approach that represents the interests and needs of the Western Pacific Region and contributes to the global efforts to combat tobacco use and smoking,” she said.

Sumber: New Straits Times

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