“Read up on the effects of smoking,” ex-deputy health minister chides Tiong

FORMER deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye has urged Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing to do his research and find out more about the health effects of cigarette smoking.

According to Dr Lee, the dangers of cigarette smoking, such as cancer and heart disease, have been extensively documented and supported by substantial evidence.

Lee said he was disappointed by Tiong’s remarks last week in which Tiong had claimed that former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin had failed to prove that smoking causes cancer.

“He should read up. Read a medical textbook and it will tell you,” the former Gopeng MP was quoted as saying by FMT today (Nov 21).

“The bill should be approved because this is part and parcel of the control of the epidemic of tobacco abuse. It doesn’t make sense for a minister to focus on protecting the rights of current smokers at the expense of public health, especially that of the younger generation.

“By all means, existing smokers can go ahead (but) we need to protect our children from being addicted to nicotine.”

On Thursday (Nov 16), Tiong slammed Khairy by placing the blame squarely on him for the purportedly flawed generational endgame (GEG) bill.

Tiong contends that Khairy’s hasty drafting of the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, colloquially known as the GEG bill, rendered it both “unconstitutional” and “unenforceable”.

Tiong, who is also the Bintulu MP, labelled Khairy as the worst health minister, asserting that Khairy had failed to substantiate the connection between smoking and cancer.

In response, Khairy took to a series of Instagram stories to question, among others, Tiong’s competence as a Cabinet member and tagged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“It’s 2023, and there is still a minister who questions the link between smoking and cancer. This was said by a member of the Madani Cabinet. Honestly, Anwar, what kind of half-past-six ministers have you got? You’re only as good as your ministers,” Khairy wrote.

Reacting to the heated exchange, Dr Lee said incompetent ministers have been present in every cabinet.

“When Khairy was health minister some of the members of the cabinet then did not support the proposed tobacco law.

“The bill would have been passed then if not for the lack of support from his own colleagues,” he added.

The GEG Bill, officially known as the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022, seeks to ban the use, possession and sale of cigarettes and vape products to those born after 2007.

However, those under the age of 18 are currently permitted to use nicotine liquid and gel products without restriction, prompting a public outcry among health practitioners and parents. – Nov 21, 2023


Main pic credit: Astro Awani

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