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When it concerns addiction, there’s no freedom of choice, says regional tobacco expert

PUTRAJAYA: There’s no such thing as infringement of freedom of choice when it comes to dealing with addictions, said a regional tobacco expert.

Senior Policy Adviser for Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance Dr Mary Assunta Kolandai said the generational endgame (GEG) bill, expected to be tabled for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat in October, should be approved as soon as possible as it was the government’s responsibility to protect the people.

“When it comes to smoking and vaping, because the products are addictive, the issue of rights actually no longer applies. The government needs to do what needs to be done in order to protect (the people), particularly children, because they are most vulnerable,” she told reporters after attending the prepatory meeting for tenth session of the Conference of Parties (COP10).

She further said that it was important for the government to control the distribution of such harmful vape substance as it was currently being widely promoted online and highly accessible to the younger generation.

“Today, if you look at the way these new products are promoted online, and we know younger generation go online, once you allow it, it gets out of hand.

“I think that seems to be the problem not just in Malaysia but around the world,” she added.

Commenting on the country’s effort to curb nicotine addiction, Dr Mary said the bill would be a long term solution as the legislation aims to protect the younger generation from being exposed to such substance.

She said that the smoking prevalence among adolescents stands at nine percent. Meanwhile vaping or e-cigarrettes is higher at 14 percent and it may deteriorate if there are no efforts to find the solution for such problem.

“Therefore, the GEG bill has got a component on banning sales of tobacco products which includes vaping product to those born in 2007 onwards, and that to me strikes as a long term solution to protect the young now and also future generations,” she said.

It was reported that the Health Ministry would be meeting the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) reviewing the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 today.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the bill, dubbed the generational end game (GEG) bill was expected to be tabled for a second reading in the Dewan Rakyat in its sitting next month.

Source: New Straits Times

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