In a significant move to combat the menace of smoking and protect public health, Health Minister Dr. Zaliha Mustafa has pledged the tabling of the revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 during the concluding parliamentary session of the year. The second reading of the bill, incorporating provisions for the Generational Endgame (GEG), is set to take place before the month concludes, as confirmed by Dr. Zaliha during her address to the Parliament today while concluding the Health Ministry’s budget debate for 2024.
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Responding to queries regarding the delay in the bill’s second reading from multiple Members of Parliament, Dr. Zaliha assured, “That’s right, God-willing, we will table the Bill by the end of this Parliament session.” Originally scheduled for October 10, the second reading was postponed due to pressing government matters in Parliament, despite receiving Cabinet approval on October 4.
The current parliamentary session, commencing on October 9, is slated to conclude on November 30. The Supply Bill 2024 is anticipated to pass the committee stage on November 27, allowing three additional days for other governmental affairs. Notably, former Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin recently alleged obstruction by two Cabinet members, specifically Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.
The revised bill proposes significant changes, including increased fines for suppliers, reduced fines for buyers or consumers within the GEG category, and the introduction of a two-year “educational enforcement” period for GEG violators after the Act comes into effect. The 2023 version incorporates amendments recommended by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) last year, including a decrease in the maximum fine for GEG offenders from RM5,000 to RM500 and the inclusion of a community service provision aimed at educating and raising awareness.