The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has urged MPs to declare any interests that they or their officials might have in the tobacco industry following reports of lobbyists at the Parliament building as the government seeks to pass a bill that would ban smoking among those born in or after 2007.
Describing this as a "blatant move by tobacco industry lobbyists to attempt to interfere in the heart of Parliament", CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader said it was also in direct violation of a key provision of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
"Recognising the power of the tobacco industry’s influence and interference, Article 5.3 clearly states that: 'In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law'," he said in a statement today.
Adding that Malaysia had ratified the FCTC in September 2005, he said the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022 was in fact long overdue.
"In taking the 2022 bill forward, the health ministry is rightfully standing up for the health of all Malaysians by implementing its international legally binding obligations, and protecting future generations with its courageous introduction of the generational endgame provision for all Malaysians born on Jan 1, 2007 onwards," he said.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tabled the bill, also known as the tobacco generational endgame law, in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
If passed, the bill will criminalise the consumption of any tobacco product or substitute tobacco product by those born in or after 2007.
It will also prohibit the possession and use of smoking devices as tobacco and smoking substances, with offenders liable to a fine of up to RM5,000.
Khairy said the bill was to protect future generations from becoming involved in smoking and addiction, and to reduce the percentage of smokers in Malaysia to less than 5% by 2040.
CAP said the bill was a significant step towards implementing Malaysia's obligations under the FCTC.
"CAP’s monitoring of the tobacco industry over the years has revealed many industry antics to circumvent and even subvert the FCTC implementation, and this is also seen in countries around the world," Mohideen said.
"It is good to recall from the World Health Organization website that the FCTC 'is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health' and that it was 'developed in response to the globalisation of the tobacco epidemic'."