Kuala Lumpur – The Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers (CMTM), comprising of British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd, JT International Berhad and Philip Morris (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, notes that on 2 August 2022, the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill (“Bill”) has been referred to a new Parliament Special Select Committee (“PSSC”) for review.
Based on media reports, the PSSC has held discussions three times without calling for consultations with stakeholders i.e., local retailers, industry players, expert and consumer groups that will be impacted by the Bill – especially on the experimental Generation Endgame (GEG) proposal. CMTM believes that the new members of the PSSC should be given the opportunity to have face to face consultations with the relevant stakeholders in order to gain a fresh perspective and contribute to a holistic law-making process.
With Parliament scheduled to sit again in less than 5 days and without consultations held, CMTM would like to raise serious concerns on the undue rush to re-table the Bill in the coming session of Parliament. Issues concerning constitutionality, wide enforcement powers, high penalties, consumer rights and implementation mechanism of the GEG have not been addressed. The GEG proposal, if passed, is only scheduled to take effect in 2025 i.e. when those born after 1 January 2007 will be 18 years old. There is no immediate urgency to pass the GEG proposal because there is sufficient time in the next two years to resolve those issues.
CMTM would like to reiterate that the Government should exercise caution in passing a Bill that can yield unintended socio-economic consequences especially with such a high black market in Malaysia. It is worth noting that New Zealand has a low illicit market (6% to 7% while Malaysia is 57.7%) and announced their Generation Endgame after a comprehensive round of consultations and inputs from more than 5,200 stakeholders . Currently, New Zealand’s GEG proposal is undergoing a further 6-month consultation process as part of its passage through the New Zealand Parliament – in contrast to the short 2-month period given to the PSSC for internal discussions and without any stakeholder or public consultations.
CMTM urges the Government to ensure the necessary consultations are held by the new PSSC and other Parliamentary Special Select Committees, such as the Special Select Committee on Fundamental Liberty and Constitutional Rights and Special Select Committee on Domestic Trade. The fundamental issues in the Bill should not be brushed aside in favour of rushing to pass it in the upcoming Parliamentary session. Stakeholder consensus is critical to ensure the Bill is constitutional, implementable, enforceable and will achieve its intended health outcomes without unintended consequences.