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Ignore those with vested interests and enact tobacco control law, urges CAP

GEORGE TOWN: The tobacco industry and those with vested interests are mounting a campaign in the media to influence lawmakers to ditch the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) said.

CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader said lawmakers should not give in to the pressure and abdicate their responsibility to the public to enact laws to protect their lives and health.

“They (the lawmakers) should enact the law in the next parliamentary session without any delay.

“What is most shocking is the call by the Private Medical Practitioners of Malaysia ‘to consider the science of harm reduction before rushing ahead with the generation endgame’. What do they mean by this?

“Scientific studies have established a link between smoking and cancer as well as other major diseases.

“Four hundred people are dying of cancer daily due to smoking. How long are we going to wait before taking effective steps to curb this scourge?” he asked today.

Tobacco smoking, according to Mohideen, is an addiction acquired over many years and the generational endgame (GEG) bill aimed to stop it by targeting the younger generation.

He said progressively, in a few years, the endgame of tobacco could be achieved.

Malaysia is a signatory to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a legally binding multilateral treaty aimed at reducing tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

“We are committed to taking measures to achieve the FCTC objective and the Tobacco Bill is the outcome.

“Our government has implemented a strategic plan to comply with our commitments under FCTC.

“The National Strategic Plan on Tobacco Control 2015-2020 (NSPTC) is aimed at strengthening the implementation of tobacco controls in the country.

“The NSPTC has a medium-term target to reduce smoking prevalence to 15 per cent by 2025, as well as a long-term target to achieve the ‘endgame’ of tobacco in Malaysia by 2045.

“The tobacco bill is a well thought of, rational and reasonable piece of legislation to achieve the NSPTC and FCTC objectives,” he added.

Mohideen said another group opposing the GEG bill was vape dealers through their associations.

Rizani Zakir and Ridhwan Rosli, representing vape dealers, claimed to have collected 600,000 online petition signatures opposing the bill.

“The claim is disputable. But a short answer to it is that health policies and laws are not decided through online petition but through an established process.

“The bill had gone through a consultation process and, finally, after the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the cabinet had given their clearance, it was tabled in Parliament.

“The views of stakeholders have been taken into account. Human health and lives are more important than the profits of vape dealers.

“We also like to remind them that there is a fatwa prohibiting vaping,” he said.

It has also been reported that owners of over 40 coffee shops and restaurants had expressed concern over the bill.

They were not opposing the GEG law, but worried about its enforcement.

It is now before the Special Select Committee, which is dealing with the issues of constitutionality and enforcement.

Mohideen said the government had agreed to some changes in the provisions relating to enforcement to accommodate the traders’ concerns.

“Therefore, they should have nothing to worry about.

“We urge the lawmakers to ignore the delaying tactics of the tobacco lobbyists and proceed to pass the GEG bill,” he stressed.


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