Malaysia may join New Zealand in effort to ban some tobacco sales

Malaysia is considering a ban on smoking and the sale of all tobacco products to people born after 2007. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia is considering a ban on smoking and the sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to people born after 2007, joining New Zealand lawmakers in a once-unheard of move against one of the most common causes of death worldwide.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin presented the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill 2022 for a first reading in Parliament on Wednesday (July 27).

If the Bill is passed, those born on or after Jan 1, 2007, will not be allowed to smoke, buy or own any tobacco products even after they reach age 18.

Shopkeepers and distributors will be prohibited from selling such products to anyone in that age group under the proposal.

Tobacco use leads to more than eight million deaths worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organisation. Nearly one in four people across the globe use tobacco, according to the agency.

New Zealand on Tuesday put forth a similar Bill to outlaw the sale of tobacco products to anyone born from 2009 onwards.

Mr Khairy mentioned the move in a tweet referencing his Generational Endgame initiative that is focused on curbing tobacco use, saying: "The Generational Endgame is starting."

The so-called Generational Endgame campaign aims to build a tobacco-free generation in Malaysia. It will reduce the number of smokers, curb addiction and save lives, Mr Khairy said in another tweet.

"In Malaysia, more than 400 people die every week because of reasons related to smoking," he said in a TikTok video.

Tobacco consumption is the main cause of cancer, and cancer is the leading cause of hospital death in the country, he added.

The law was initially intended to apply to those born after 2005.

After hearing views during various stakeholder sessions, Mr Khairy decided on Monday to add a two-year buffer to allow for an implementation plan, community education and enforcement.

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