The government is mooting to implement one of the most impactful public health plan — the Generation End Game (GEG) policy that bans the use, possession and sale of cigarette and vape products for people born after 2007.
The idea was introduced by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin earlier this year and it does not only regulate e-cigarettes and vape products in the country but will act as a “generation end-game” (GEG) for smoking in the long run.
While the idea is good, the proposed law has been getting a lot of pushback from policymakers, medical professionals, industry players, and the public for the issues it create.
According to a public petition initiated by Badrul Badri, it cited four key reasons why the people voted against the new law. Among them were:
- The GEG will create a generation of criminals;
- The GEG takes away an individual’s right to equality and freedom;
- The GEG fuels an illegal market; and
- The GEG does not differentiate between vape and cigarettes.
The public petition on “Malaysia Bersuara” has since amassed over 600,000 signatures at the time of writing.
Concerns over the impact on the industry
The Malaysian Vape Chamber of Commerce (MVCC) and Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy (MVIA) have consistently called for the GEG to be reviewed again as it brings a huge impact to the industry.
“Since the GEG was first proposed early this year, many in the vape industry have shared their concerns as the impact of this policy on our industry will be significant,” MVCC secretary-general Ridhwan Rosli said.
“Beyond affecting Bumiputera entrepreneurs, the GEG sets a very wrong and negative stance on vape which has been widely used as a tool for smoking cessation by smokers.”
Concerns from legal perspective
Former Chief Justice Zaki Azmi was one of them who gave his views on the Tobacco Bill and he said that the GEG may be unconstitutional, discriminatory, and affect civil liberties.
Citing Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which focuses on the right to equality and equal protection under the law, he said, “It is crucial to note that it does not necessarily mean all persons must be treated alike, but rather that the law must operate alike on all persons under like circumstances.”
“Thus, it is worth asking whether setting an age limit on a permanent prohibition to smoke is discriminatory and against the spirit of Article 8.”
Medical practitioner’s view
Over the past decade, Malaysia has introduced several smoking cessation programmes but most of them were ineffective. Therefore, medical practitioners think GEG should not prohibit a less harmful smoking alternatives such as vape.
In a statement, the President of Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) Dr Steven Chow has urged the Health Ministry to consider harm reduction approaches before “rushing” to legislate the GEG on vape.
“In Malaysia, the field of tobacco harm reduction is in sore need of comprehensive basic clinical epidemiological research, and we must take the time and use our resources to explore this option,” he said.
“Rushing the GEG and excluding harm reduction from the policy would be a missed opportunity, as we may be losing out on an achievable option that can have a meaningful impact on the tobacco epidemic.”