MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, August 5, 2022

Anti-smoking group wants MPs to declare links to tobacco industry


A coalition of NGOs that support an anti-tobacco law today called all MPs to declare if they have any links, present or past, to the tobacco industry.

They also urged Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to only select MPs who are free from industry influence to be in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that will be finetuning the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill 2022.

This comes after the bill received sharp criticism when it was debated in Parliament earlier this week before the government decided to set up the special PSC.

“We the rakyat have been watching the action of certain MPs who deliberately make excuses to reject this bill.

“This issue had also been politicised by some MPs who did not consider our future generation's safety and health," said coalition spokesperson Dr M Murallitharan at a press conference this afternoon.

According to their press release, the coalition comprises some 235 NGOs.

Murallitharan, who is also the National Cancer Society Malaysia’s managing director, said one of the issues raised during the debate was the amount of power given to authorities to enforce the law.

“Why to such an extent the issue of powers was questioned? Or was this a script which had been prepared by those who have vested interest in the tobacco and electronic cigarette industries?

“Thus, we would like to call for all MPs to declare if they have any dealings with stakeholders in tobacco or e-cigarette companies.

“We also urge that members of the new PSC, who will be chosen among MPs from across political parties, must be only those who are clean and free from any involvement with the industry players who place money above public health,” he said.

The smoking control bill was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday and debated for two days by MPs across the floor.

Voting on the bill was expected to be on Tuesday but Khairy tabled a motion to send it to a newly formed PSC for fine-tuning first.

The committee will be tasked with making recommendations related to enforcement and penalties under the bill.

On the PSC’s tasks, the NGOs said they hope it will only engage experts who have credible qualifications for advice.

“The experts who will be chosen (to assist the PSC) must be free from any vested interest and selected based on their expertise.

“It must be stressed here that there is no such thing as an expert in vape or expert in electronic cigarettes, who only aims to make profits.”

They also called on the government not to allow any interference by tobacco industry players, which allegedly had been trying to lobby against the restrictive law. - Mkini

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