[News] Disappointed with GEG delay, civil societies want MPs to sign SD stating no personal interest in smoking industry

Disappointed with GEG delay, civil societies want MPs to sign SD stating no personal interest in smoking industry

National Cancer Society Malaysia managing director Dr Murallitharan Munisamy speaks at a press conference at the Royal Lake Club Kuala Lumpur, August 5, 2022. Several civil societies came together to express their disappointment today after the Anti-Tobacco Bill tabled last week was referred to a parliamentary select committee (PSC) on August 2. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

By Rex Tan

Friday, 05 Aug 2022 7:14 PM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Several civil societies, including the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM), have urged politicians to make Statutory Declarations (SD) to prove that they are not unduly influenced by the tobacco or vaping industry.

Director of NCSM Dr Murallitharan Munisamy questioned if politicians have a vested interest in the smoking industry, saying that they should sign an SD to prove otherwise.

“Is this the script that they have been given or do they have their own interests in the smoking or vaping industry?” asked Dr Murallitharan during a press conference here today.

Several civil societies came together to express their disappointment today after the Anti-Tobacco Bill tabled last week was referred to a parliamentary select committee (PSC) on August 2.

“Therefore, we as the health activists urge all MPs to declare if they have any involvement with smoking or vaping companies,” said Dr Murallitharan.

He also urged the government to select qualified professionals who have nothing to gain financially from the said industry to participate in any adjustment of the Bill.

“The selection of professionals must also be independent of any interest and based on their professional eligibility in their own field,” he said.

Besides that, the group said that the government should respect Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states, “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”.

When asked by reporters if the enforcement procedures of the Bill are too harsh and should be adjusted further, Dr Murallitharan and Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah from the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) said that they support the soft-landing approach which the government has adopted.

However, they urged politicians to make decisions based on facts about the adverse effects of smoking on society.

The Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, also known as Generational End Game (GEG), seeks to ban smoking and vaping for those born from 2007 and onwards, it was referred to the PSC for further scrutiny during the Second Meeting of the Fifth Session of the 14th Parliament which adjourned yesterday.

The chairman of the PSC Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also the health minister, said that they would take into account the suggestions made in relation to the Bill, and have a statement prepared, containing the proposed amendments, within one month.

Today’s press conference was also attended by lawyer and Pemadam member Azlinda Baroni; NCSM president, Datuk Dr Saunthari Somasundaram; President of MyWatch Roslizawati Md Ali; and Ikram chief, Mohd Afiq Mohd Nor.

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