PKR’s Fahmi hears from retailers on GEG, as concerns grow ahead of Parliament

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KUALA LUMPUR, September 23 – PKR Chief Information Officer Fahmi Fadzil met with retail businesses yesterday to hear their concerns over the government’s proposed Tobacco Generation End Game (GEG).

The Malaysian Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors’ General Association (MSCSPGA), the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas), the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) and the Federation of Divers Groups Merchants Associations Malaysia (FSGMAM), in a joint statementcalled for full consultation, briefing and impact assessment with retailers before Parliament passes the Tobacco and Smoking Products Control Bill 2022 which aims to ban tobacco products tobacco and vaping to anyone born after 2007.

“So far, we have not been consulted on the GEG Bill or received any information on the implementation of the proposed measures that have been reported in the media,” MSCSPGA President Wong Teu said. Hoon.

Revisions to the Tobacco Bill are currently being discussed by a newly formed Parliamentary Special Committee (PSSC) chaired by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. The PSSC is expected to finalize the revisions next week ahead of Dewan Rakyat’s next meeting from October 3.

Health, Science and Innovation PSSC chaired by MP for Bandar Kuching, Dr Kelvin Yii, who had made numerous engagements with stakeholders on the Tobacco Bill from April , did not consult with retailers, according to its report filed July 28, although the committee heard comments from tobacco companies.

However, the Director General of the Galen Center for Health and Social Policy, Azrul Mohd Khalib, who attended two health PSSC consultation meetings on the tobacco bill, pointed out that MSCSPGA’s Wong has been invited to the meetings twice, but he didn’t show up.

“A lot of the GEG discussions have focused on health, but like what we’ve heard, there’s an impact on human resources, children and women, and the economy,” Fahmi said during the interview. retailers press conference yesterday.

Previously, the PSSC on Women and Children and Social Development, chaired by Pengerang MP Azalina Othman Said, expressed concern over the criminalization of minors for smoking or vaping under the Tobacco Bill, such as powers of search and seizure of private residences without a warrant. , including body searches.

Fahmi, who is also an MP for Lembah Pantai and director of communications for Pakatan Harapan (PH), is not a member of the bipartisan tobacco bill PSSC. Most of the 13 members of the committee are not part of the leadership of their respective parties.

Retailers have wondered how bans on the sale of tobacco to adults aged 18 and over born from 2007 – which are due to be enforced from 2025 – could be operationalized by retailers as frontliners, since the Ministry of Health (MOH) will not be able to employ enforcement officers at each outlet.

“Retail operators will be the ones called upon to do the ID checks, which in itself will cause some in-store tension,” Primas President J. Suresh said.

“As the bill does not allow people born in or after 2007 to work in stores that sell cigarettes, the costs of operating these small businesses will increase and cause many businesses to close.”

Although Khairy expressed confidence in a media interview on Wednesday that the Dewan Rakyat would pass the tobacco bill at the next meeting of Parliament, he did not elaborate on the mechanism for retail businesses to avoid selling tobacco products to adults born after 2007.

Malaysia’s current tobacco regulations prohibit the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors under the age of 18, which can be easily operationalized by examining the physical appearance of potential buyers without necessarily asking for their ID card. .

The edge reported last August 3 Bursa filings by Green Packet Berhad and Privasia Technology Berhad which denied a StarBiz report claiming that the two companies were seeking MOH approval for a new digital tracking system for the GEG and to combat illicit cigarettes.

MSCSPGA, Primas, Presma and FSGMAM claimed that sales of legal tobacco products in retail stores accounted for 30% of total revenue.

“The GEG will impact retail store revenues at a time when the country braces for an unprecedented global recession.”

FSGMAM Chairman Hong Chee Meng also expressed concern over proposed penalties for companies under the Tobacco and Smoking Products Control Bill, in which retailers found guilty of selling cigarettes to the GEG Group will be sentenced to a minimum fine of RM30,000 or imprisonment for up to three years, or both.

New Zealand’s Smoke-Free Environments and Restricted Products (Smoked Tobacco) Bill punishes the sale and delivery of smoked tobacco products to anyone born on or after 2009 with a fine not exceeding NZ 150,000 $ (RM399,620) if convicted. No incarceration is proposed.

The Federation of Private Medical Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) recently urged the MOH to consider harm reduction approaches to smoked tobacco, such as non-combustion nicotine products like e-cigarettes or vaping, and to conduct clinical studies on alternative products before quitting. check invoice.

During his recent media interview, Khairy did not elaborate on the PSSC’s proposed revisions to the Tobacco Bill.

According to Malaysian parliamentary convention, all meetings of the PSSC are classified, unlike western democracies like the UK and New Zealand which broadcast all proceedings of their select parliamentary committees.

It is unclear whether the government will publish the revised bill for public consultation before it is officially tabled for debate in parliament.

Even the health, science and innovation PSSC did not receive the tobacco bill before it was introduced in the House, leading the committee to release its 47-page report a day after Khairy tabled the bill on July 27.

Khairy was forced to withdraw the tobacco bill from debate at Dewan Rakyat’s latest meeting, after several MPs objected to them debating and passing the controversial legislation in less than a week after his tabled at first reading.

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