“Why the need for a GEG survey at the eleventh hour?” MMA asks Health Ministry

AMID the move to conduct a Generational End Game (GEG) survey on MySejahtera, a doctors’ group has demanded that the government stop stalling the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said the latest move by the government to conduct a survey to gather public opinion on the GEG is simply another means to delay the second reading of the Bill.

“All the hard work of engaging with key stakeholders has been done by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) chaired by Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad,” MMA president Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz said in a statement today (Sept 13).

“Why the need for a survey at the eleventh hour when the government had months to do one? Moreover, many Malaysians no longer use or have deleted the MySejahtera app.

“From its move to delist nicotine gels and liquids from the Poisons Act early this year to postponements and now this latest move to conduct a survey when the Bill should have already been tabled for second reading, we are not convinced that the government is genuinely committed to advancing the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 despite assurance given by the Health Minister.

“Sufficient stakeholder engagements have been held. All it needs is the political will.”

Dr Azizan further said that Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad who is the Chairman of the PSSC, earned praise during his tenure as health minister under the first Tun Dr Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration for his bold move to introduce a smoking ban at eateries.

“Although it was an unpopular decision among certain quarters at the time, it was the right thing to do in the best interest of public health. This is the kind of commitment that we need now,” Dr Azizan remarked.

“To genuinely prioritise public health, the Health Ministry (MOH) must demonstrate unwavering commitment in combating the perils of smoking and vaping.

“It is imperative that the government takes decisive action to ensure the swift passage of the Bill in this parliamentary session, as they had pledged. No compromises, no delays – our health demands nothing less.”

She was responding to the announcement by Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa on Wednesday (Oct 11) that her ministry had launched a survey to gather public feedback on the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, better known as the GEG bill, via the MySejahtera app.

The survey is open to all Malaysians who can participate through the MySejahtera app starting on Wednesday (Oct 11) and the survey covers a range of topics including the public’s views on the health risks of smoking, the GEG provisions, and the Control of Tobacco Products for Public Health Bill 2023.

MySejahtera was developed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic with people having to scan a QR code whenever entering any premise for the purpose of contact tracing.

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. – Oct 13, 2023


Main pic credit: The Sun Daily

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