KUALA LUMPUR: The phased-out method offered through the Generational End Game (GEG) strategy is seen as the best way to curb the habit of smoking, according to the former Deputy Director General of Health (Public Health), Professor Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman.

He said it was because the rate of smoking habit was still slowly declining, while the burden of government smoking-related disease treatment costs continued to rise.

“Insya Allah, if smoking and vaping habits decrease (as a result of the implementation of the GEG strategy), the health burden caused by these bad habits will also decrease,” he told Bernama when he was contacted.

The Tobacco Products and Tobacco Control Bill 2022 which, among other things, provides for the prohibition of smoking, purchase or possession of tobacco products or smoking devices by the GEG or persons born from 2007, was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on July 27.

Commenting on the effectiveness of the proposed law since tobacco products can still be sold to people born before 2007, Dr Lokman Hakim said it was not a problem as the country has put in place the tobacco control regulations. Tobacco Products (PPKHT) 2004 and the Food Act 1983. .

He said the rules still enforced no smoking or possession of tobacco products for those aged 18 and under, as well as the sale of tobacco products to the group.

“As part of the GEG strategy, this ban continues when they (those born in 2007 and above) reach 19, 20 and beyond. So there is no reason why the implementation of this bill should not be effective,” he said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya Medical Center (PPUM) Emergency and Trauma Physician, Dr Mohd Afiq Md Noor, said the bill had a significant impact as the existing PPKHT 2004 does not cover new devices. for smoking such as vaping.

When asked why vaping could not be used as an alternative to tobacco products, he replied that vaping has been proven to have harmful effects.

“They contain many chemicals (cigarettes and vape) such as cyanogen. Taking cigarettes as an example, we can only find out that there is lung cancer after 30 years (of smoking). It’s the same with vaping…not only does it have a long-term (effect), but we’ve seen a short-term impact as well.

“We receive cases of EVALI (Vaping Associated Lung Injury) at the hospital, which is an illness caused by vaping. For example, a young person with no other illness suddenly suffered lung damage due to a history of vaping” , did he declare.

Although the bill has received positive comments from several parties, others have urged the government to review certain provisions as they may harm the country’s economy.

However, according to the Assistant Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Universiti Putra Malaysia, Assoc Prof Norashidah Mohamed Nor, the tobacco industry’s contribution to Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not not so high.

On the other hand, she said, the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses is higher, with a decrease in national productivity if most people develop the illnesses in their early 40s.

“Ultimately, productivity will decline. A lot of research has been done…productivity contributes to the economy of our country, not only in terms of income, but also in various aspects,” she said.

Last Saturday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said a total of two million lives could be saved and tobacco-related diseases could be prevented until 2040 if the Control Bill 2022 tobacco products and smoking comes into force.

On social media, while many people agreed with the bill, some raised concerns about the aspect of the app, which they said had flaws that needed improvement. especially with regard to human rights.

However, according to lawyer Hazeeq Fadzli Hasrul Sani, there is still room for changes and improvements since the bill has not yet been finalized.

“As Malaysian citizens, we cannot deny that we have fundamental rights which are protected by Articles 5 to 13 of the (Federal) Constitution. Therefore, any enforcement of the Bill (if approved) by the authorities must be in tandem and not run counter to these fundamental rights.

“If any method of enforcement goes beyond the bounds or violates these basic rights, we have the right under the Constitution to take appropriate legal action against the enforcement agencies,” a- he declared. – Bernama

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