SARAWAK Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah made two sharp observations yesterday pertaining to the Health Ministry’s youth smoking ban proposal dubbed “generational endgame” which is currently being rushed through the Parliament to be eventually made a law.
Firstly, he emphasised the need for more studies before the bill is tabled as it may cause confusion and raise many questions, and secondly, the future of the bill when the minister-in-charge changes.
“In my opinion, do a proper study on the matter because if he (Khairy Jamaluddin) is not the Health Minister anymore, chances are the new health minister will not make such a decision,” opined Abdul Karim.
“There is no need to make a hasty decision, and I am not encouraging anyone to smoke, but we should educate the public on the matter instead. There must be some kind of education or efforts to ensure that the target group do not become smokers.”
Abdul Karim’s reaction comes in the light of Khairy revealing on Saturday (March 26) that the new law to ban smoking activities and the possession of any smoking products – including electronic cigarettes (vaping) – for those who were born after 2005 will be tabled in Parliament in July.
Khairy further updated that the bill is currently being finalised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“I think in one to two weeks it will be completed, and then I can present it to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and Technology,” he told the media after the launch of the national-level community health agent, MyCHAMPION, in Sepang.
On Feb 17, Khairy announced the introduction of the law, aimed at reducing the exposure of future generations to cigarettes and smoking products, because their consumption is a major factor in cancer incidence and accounts for 22% of cancer deaths.
Earlier, in his speech, Khairy said that the introduction of the new law related to cigarettes was one of the efforts by the Health Ministry (MOH) to intensify smoking cessation campaign among Malaysians.
“We will introduce a new law so that it is a legal offence to sell cigarettes to anyone born after 2005. Indeed enforcement will be a challenge. Nothing to stop these young people from asking adults to buy cigarettes for them,” he pointed out.
“But I think this is the first step towards us ending smoking for a generation. It is a generational end game,” he added.
By the way, MyCHAMPION is a team of on-the-field volunteers who will act as agents of mindset and health behaviourial change in the community by indirectly helping Malaysia to enter the endemic transition phase.
In this regard, Khairy has requested MyCHAMPION volunteers to remind members of the public who are caught smoking in no-smoking areas.
“I don’t have enough enforcement officers to go to every restaurant to issue compounds to those who are still stubborn, and we can’t possibly conduct operations continuously,” he noted.
“I ask MyCHAMPION to reprimand members of the public politely so that they no longer smoke in no-smoking areas.” – March 28, 2022