Akademi Profesor Malaysia also calls for the gazettement of an edict by the National Fatwa Council prohibiting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, across all states.
BANGI: An NGO of academics has urged Putrajaya to impose a minimum of 65% tax on tobacco products to decrease the prevalence of smoking among Malaysians.
Akademi Profesor Malaysia (APM), through its health and medicine division, proposed for the government to implement the 65% tax rate to bring it closer to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation.
The WHO recommends a minimum 75% tax share of the retail price of tobacco. Currently, the tobacco tax in Malaysia is at 58.6% of retail prices.
The call for a higher tax rate is part of 10 proposals under a “Bangi Declaration” put forward by the group following a roundtable discussion on the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, formerly the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022.
The group also called for the government to ensure the gazettement of a 2015 edict by the National Fatwa Council declaring e-cigarettes and vape as “haram” (prohibited), across all states. Currently, only Kedah and Johor have gazetted the fatwa.
In a press conference, the group also called for the government to review the decision to exempt nicotine liquids and gels from the Poisons Act.
The group proposed for local authorities to impose a requirement for premises to obtain licenses to sell e-cigarettes and vape products and prohibit the sale of the same within 5km from all educational institutions and housing areas in order to limit public access to the products.
The group said it will deliver the declaration to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim soon. Asked when, the group said it had reached out to Anwar’s office but have yet to receive a response.
APM also called for no more delays in the tabling of the 2023 Bill.
“We (also) hope this issue is not politicised because we are calling for something good for the country, we are siding with science.
“It’s not about the current government or the previous government, this is about how things have not changed,” APM president Saleh Jaafar said.
On April 1, health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said she expects the new bill on tobacco and vape control to be tabled when Parliament resumes in May.
Her statement came amid controversy over the removal of vape liquids and gels from the poisons list, clearing the way for over-the-counter sales.
In August last year, the previous government tabled a Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill which was referred to a select committee for review. However, the bill lapsed when Parliament was dissolved in October.
Source: Free Malaysia Today