Deputy Minister Says Tobacco & Vape Lobbyists Influenced MPs To Kill GEG

According to him, Big Tobacco representatives entered parliament and met with MPs to lobby them.

Cover image via New Straits Times

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When the new anti-smoking bill was passed in November last year, it did not include some previously planned policies, such as the ban on smoking for those born after 2007 and regulations for e-cigarette or vape devices

At the time, the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, passed via a voice vote, was criticised by both backbenchers and Opposition members of parliament (MPs) during the debate session.

The criticisms regarding the bill focused on the omission of the Generational End Game (GEG) policy, which includes prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone born in 2007 and after.

The bill has since been gazetted as the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024.

Yesterday, 14 March, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Lukanisman Awang Sauni told the Dewan Rakyat that the removal of the GEG provision was due to heavy influence from the tobacco and vape industry players, who lobbied the MPs

According to him, tobacco and vape industry players had met with MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.

He said this direct industry pressure had resulted in conflicting views during debates over the Bill last year.

According to the Hansard, Lukanisman was responding to Kapar MP Dr Halimah Ali's supplementary question during the Ministers' Question Time. The PAS MP had sought clarification about the Health Ministry's efforts to curb smoking among students, and the tobacco and vape industry's interference.

"On pressure from the industry, we need the support of all quarters.

"If we look at our experience when we tabled the GEG, there was a clash of views due to the [tobacco and vape] industry pressure, with representatives from the industry entering parliament and they met MPs [to lobby them], which influenced the decision [to drop the GEG]," the deputy health minister said.

Lukanisman then cautioned lawmakers that addressing the issues should begin within parliament itself. He said MPs should lead by example and stop the habit of smoking and vaping in the August House.

"Find a suitable place [to smoke or vape]," he told Dewan Rakyat, to loud cheers and support.

The deputy health minister also stated that lawmakers should not be easily influenced by vape advertisements, noting that such harmful products can easily attract the attention of children.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Lukanisman Awang Sauni.

Image via New Straits Times

Meanwhile, former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who was the architect of the GEG, commended Lukanisman for being honest enough to say that Big Tobacco had influenced lawmakers

"I am glad Lukanisman is honest enough to admit that Big Tobacco has penetrated the government, the Cabinet, and our MPs," The Star quoted Khairy as saying today, 15 March.

He pointed out that as Malaysia is a signatory to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Framework Convention of Tobacco Control, Big Tobacco is prohibited from influencing policy decisions.

"I am saddened that this happened during this government’s time. They were irresponsible because they did not think of the future generation. They were also cowardly because they caved into whatever reasons Big Tobacco gave them," he said, urging the government to enact stricter regulations on vape sales, as they are being sold rampantly to minors.

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