Parliament’s Health special select committee needs to be independent from MOH’s influence

THE Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) is calling for a clear timeline for the Dewan Rakyat’s Special Select Committee on Health’s (SSCH) to review the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023 to ensure that the process can be done thoroughly and holistically.

The Malaysian CCC chapter representative Tarmizi Anuwar said the authorities need to announce a clear timeline to give room for the SSCH to conduct a detailed and holistic study in preparing a feedback report to the Control of Smoking Product for Public Health Bill 2023.

“It is important to ensure that this committee has adequate time to prepare its report,” he pointed out in media statement.

In the meantime, Tarmizi urged the government to prioritise regulating the vape industry that has long operated in the grey area.

“Regulating the vape industry must be the government’s utmost priority. In the interim, while the SSCH reviews the said Bill, the government can look into expanding existing legislations to include vape,” he suggested.

“This is even more vital now that nicotine has been exempted from the Poisons Act. In the long-run, efforts must be made to distinguish vape from tobacco. These are two very different products and work in completely different manners.”

While tobacco causes an annual death toll of eight million people each year, vape has been scientifically proven to be 95% less harmful than tobacco and the most effective quit aid, according to Tarmizi.

Tarmizi Anuwar

He further urged the committee to hold additional engagement sessions with stakeholders who are particularly impacted, particularly consumers as well as experts from various fields.

“Based on the regulatory impact statement issued by the New Zealand government, 5,200 people and organisations were involved through face-to-face or written methods during the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan proposal process.

“However, Health Ministry (MOH) only conducted about 70 engagement sessions without revealing how many people and organisations were involved,” lamented Tarmizi.

“Such engagement also needs to involve experts from various fields who are not only limited to one point of view but need to include a variety of opinions because the cigarette problem is a complex problem and requires a comprehensive solution.

“Among them, former chief justice Tun Zaki Azmi once touched on the issue of individual freedom in the implementation of the generational end game (GEG) policy.”

Elaborating on the role of the SSCH, Tarmizi said the MOH must ensure that the committee must be free from the influence of the MOH and have autonomy in carrying out their responsibilities.

“The MOH needs to ensure that the special select committee has autonomy in carrying out their studies without any interference from the ministry. This is important to ensure that the members of the committee are able to carry out their responsibilities without any conflict of interest of the MOH as has happened before.” – June 16, 2023

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