Online opposition against GEG jumps as re-tabling of tobacco bill draws closer

AS Malaysia’s third and final parliamentary meeting for 2022 looms with the re-tabling of the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 in the pipeline, local vape consumer advocacy group, the Malaysian Vapers Alliance (MVA), has urged the Health Ministry (MOH) and the Government to listen to the voices of Malaysians.

The Parliament is slated to sit for 32 days from Oct 3 to Nov 29. To-date, more than 700,000 signatures – up 17% from 600,000 on Monday (Sept 26) – have opposed the proposed Generation End Game (GEG) policy via the Malaysia Bersuara online petition platform which was launched on July 27 this year.

The GEG, if implemented, will ban the use and sale of cigarettes and vape products for those born after 2007, for a lifetime. This will effectively create a society that is governed by two different legislations for two different groups of people, according to MVA president Khairil Azizi Khairuddin.

Khairil Azizi Khairuddin

“Every Malaysian citizen has the right to be treated equally, and any form of differentiated treatment is discriminatory. We cannot, under any circumstances, allow the future generation to be marginalised and subjected to selective prosecution,” he asserted.

“In a country where we are consistently pushing for progress, creating a discriminated society will ruin all the hard work to create a progressive, equal society.”

Khairil stressed that Malaysia Bersuara petition which has garnered close to 700,000 signatures demonstrated “very real concern” among the public over the implications of the GEG policy.

“Clearly, the harsh GEG policy has struck a chord with Malaysians,” he justified. “The MOH and the Government must take time to seriously consider the concerns raised and not to bull-doze the policy through.”

MVA went on to say that Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is wrong to include vape as part of GEG policy after rejecting the idea of harm reduction.

Yesterday (Sept 29), Khairy was reported to have dismissed the idea of tobacco harm reduction and reiterated the ministry’s stand that GEG will be applied for both cigarettes and vape products at the same time, effectively banning the products in future.

“Let’s not lose sight of the ultimate goal – to create a Malaysia where citizens are not dependent on cigarettes. MVA believes the GEG policy in its current form sends the wrong message to current smokers,” opined Khairy.

“Certainly, we do not want smokers to continue choosing to smoke. However, instead of implementing prohibition policy, we should encourage them to switch to less harmful products, which is at the heart of harm reduction strategies.”

He added: “Countries like the New Zealand have successfully reduced their smoking prevalence by adopting harm reduction strategies which encourages hardcore smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives such as vape.”

Moreover, facts and science backed by international public health institutions have acknowledged the harm levels of vape products to be significantly lower compared to cigarettes.

“Therefore, Malaysia’s tobacco bill should not seek to equate vape the same as cigarettes as it does now,” added Khairil. – Sept 30, 2022

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE