STUBBING IT OU

THE plan to in­crease the price of a pack of cig­a­rettes, from RM17 to RM21.50, is just one of a slew of mea­sures mooted by the Health Min­istry to get Malaysians to kick the habit. Un­der the new Con­trol of To­bacco and Smok­ing bill be­ing drafted by the minis

New Straits Times - - Front Page - THARANYA ARUMUGAM KUALA LUMPUR tharanya@nst.com.my

LE­GAL AGE

FOR BUY­ING, SMOK­ING TO­BACCO PROD­UCTS RAISED, FROM 18 TO 21

DEF­I­NI­TION OF TO­BACCO PROD­UCTS EX­PANDED TO IN­CLUDE E-CIG­A­RETTES, VAPES, SHISHAS, CHEWING TO­BACCO, ETC

USE OF E-CIG­A­RETTES, VAPES PRO­HIB­ITED AT ALL ‘NO SMOK­ING’ DES­IG­NATED PLACES

THE Health Min­istry will crank up its move to stamp out smok­ing among Malaysians by reg­u­lat­ing elec­tronic cig­a­rettes, va­por­is­ers and shishas.

These de­vices will be banned for those aged 21 and be­low, and will be reg­u­lated un­der the new Con­trol of To­bacco and Smok­ing bill to bet­ter con­trol to­bacco use, es­pe­cially among youths.

Health Min­istry deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral Datuk Dr Lok­man Hakim Su­laiman said the bill, cur­rently be­ing drafted by the min­istry, ex­tended the def­i­ni­tion of to­bacco prod­ucts to in­clude eci­garettes, vapes, shishas, chewing to­bacco and other prod­ucts.

He said un­der the pro­posed bill, the de­vices would be reg­u­lated in the same man­ner as cig­a­rettes.

The bill, he said, would al­low for the con­trol of non-ni­co­tine prod­ucts, such as ni­co­tine-free liq­uids used for va­p­ing.

“The use of eci­garettes and vapes will be pro­hib­ited at all ‘No Smok­ing’ places, while shisha will only be al­lowed at cer­tain per­mit­ted places.

“The leg­is­la­tion will also ban pro­mo­tion, ad­ver­tise­ment and spon­sor­ship of to­bacco prod­ucts.

“The gov­ern­ment aims to re­duce the ac­ces­si­bil­ity, af­ford­abil­ity and at­trac­tive­ness of to­bacco and smok­ing prod­ucts, thus pre­vent­ing youth from de­vel­op­ing ad­dic­tion to such prod­ucts.

“The cab­i­net has in­structed that the bill be en­acted in the next two years,” he told the New Straits Times yes­ter­day.

Dr Lok­man said the bill pro­hib­ited the dis­play of to­bacco prod­ucts be­hind coun­ters and made it il­le­gal to smoke in ve­hi­cles with chil­dren.

He said that de­spite this new leg­is­la­tion, the con­trol of prod­ucts or any prepa­ra­tion of e-liq­uid con­tain­ing ni­co­tine would still come un­der the Poi­sons Act 1952.

The penalty for those found guilty of breach­ing the act will be made more se­vere in the pro­posed bill than the cur­rent pro­vi­sions in the Con­trol of To­bacco Prod­ucts Reg­u­la­tions 2004, he said.

Un­der the cur­rent le­gal pro­vi­sions, those who com­mit an of­fence, such as sell­ing cig­a­rettes to a mi­nor, face a fine of no more than RM10,000 or im­pris­on­ment not ex­ceed­ing two years, or both.

Dr Lok­man said the min­istry was work­ing with other min­istries, in­clud­ing the Do­mes­tic Trade, Co­op­er­a­tives and Con­sumerism Min­istry, Science, Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion Min­istry, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry, and the In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry in reg­u­lat­ing the in­dus­try.

To­bacco prod­ucts are cur­rently reg­u­lated un­der the Food Act 1983.

The min­istry had been lob­by­ing for a to­bacco con­trol act since 2005, when Malaysia be­came a party to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion Frame­work Con­ven­tion for To­bacco Con­trol on Dec 15, 2005.

Malaysia aims to re­duce smok­ing preva­lence to 15 per cent or less by 2025, and to achieve a Smoke-free Malaysia (the End Game of To­bacco) by 2045, as stated in the Na­tional Strate­gic Plan for To­bacco Con­trol 20152020.

Deputy Health Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Ya­haya on Tues­day said the gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing in­creas­ing cig­a­rette prices to RM21.50 a pack from RM17 a pack cur­rently, which is a whop­ping 26.5 per cent in­crease, to re­duce the num­ber of smok­ers in Malaysia.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, rais­ing taxes on to­bacco is the most ef­fec­tive way to re­duce to­bacco use.

It said on av­er­age, a 10 per cent price in­crease on a pack of cig­a­rettes would be ex­pected to re­duce de­mand for cig­a­rettes by about four per cent in high-in­come coun­tries, and by about eight per cent in low- and mid­dlein­come coun­tries.

Chil­dren and ado­les­cents, it said, were more sen­si­tive to price in­creases than adults, al­low­ing price in­ter­ven­tions to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on this age group.

The Health Min­istry had, in the past, taken steps to­wards de­ter­ring smok­ing, in­clud­ing the re­cent Con­trol of To­bacco Prod­uct (Amend­ment) Reg­u­la­tions 2017, gazetted on Jan 24.

Un­der the new reg­u­la­tions, smok­ing is no longer al­lowed in pub­lic parks, na­tional parks, state parks, camp­sites, canopy bridges, game courts and play­grounds.

PIC BY MUNIRA AB­DUL GHANI

Datuk Dr Lok­man Hakim Su­laiman

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