Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has reportedly said that the government plans to completely ban smoking for future generations
According to a report in CodeBlue today, 15 January, Khairy shared his plans for a smoke-free future during his 2022 New Year message to the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday, 13 January.
The report stated that the smoking ban in Malaysia will be similar to New Zealand's smoking ban plan, under which people aged 14 and under in 2027 will never be allowed to purchase cigarettes in the country.
In Malaysia, one in five, or 21.3%, of people aged 15 years and older smoke, according to Malaysia's 2020 report to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
In order to do so, Khairy said that he will table a new Tobacco and Smoking Control Act in the upcoming parliament session to replace the Control of Tobacco Product (Amendment) Regulations 2008
The current legislation for the control of tobacco products falls under the Food Act 1983.
The CodeBlue report also stated that the new law will not just regulate e-cigarettes and vape products in the country, but will act as a "generation end-game" for smoking in the long run.
"To me, the allocation for this generational end-game must be created to ensure that there comes a time when the new generations in this country will no longer know what a cigarette is," the report quoted Khairy as saying through a transcript of his speech that was said to have been provided to the press.
Khairy said that our health care system has been burdened with issues resulting from smoking for far too long, and the new law will enable smoking to be phased out in stages until we will be a smoke-free country.
However, the Health Minister reportedly did not specify a time frame
According to the report, Khairy did not specify when the proposed smoking ban will come into effect or the year of birth for people who will be prohibited from buying cigarettes and tobacco products in the country.
Prior to this in 2019, during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, then Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad had revealed a plan to table a new bill on the usage of tobacco, vape, e-cigarette, and shisha.
According to Dzulkefly, the ministry was in the final phase of the study to formulate the bill, which was to be tabled in parliament by March 2020 sitting. However, the PH coalition fell a month before.
Meanwhile, MOH has said that it will do its best to enforce the smoking ban that's currently in place for eateries and restaurants
Its director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that enforcement was being conducted regularly and that the ministry is in the process of increasing the number of enforcement officers.
According to Noor Hisham, more than 12,000 compounds were issued to smokers and over 1,000 compounds to premises owners last year for failing to abide by the smoking ban.
The number of compounds issued in 2021, however, is considerably lower compared to a total of 27,821 compounds issued in 2020 and a whopping 39,419 in 2019, reported The Star.
Malaysia is not alone in wanting to follow in New Zealand's steps. Singapore, too, is working on cutting the prevalence of smoking: