Gov't to consider raising smoking age to 21

Nik Imran Abdullah

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will consider raising the minimum age limit for buying cigarettes to 21 years old, the parliament heard today.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya said this was among new proposals that would be introduced in a new bill on tobacco control to be tabled next year.

"We have forwarded the proposals to our legal officers to be studied," he said when responding to a supplementary question from Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai).

Nurul Izzah had asked on efforts by the government to protect non-smokers who were exposed to the effects of cigarette smoke from smokers around them.

Dr Hilmi said the ministry was considering imposing new rules on cigarette advertisements such as those at restaurants.

"There is a cigarette shelf behind payment counter at many restaurants and this is a form of advertisement.

"We will study whether this form of advertising can be prohibited under the new bill," he said.

Dr Hilmi said laws against cigarette were rather lenient as control on tobacco revenues came under the Food Control Act 1983.

On the same issue, he said there was a very little reduction in smoking habit among people from 18 years old and above despite anti-smoking campaign by the government.

He said based on findings by the National Health and Morbidity Survey, percentage of smokers was recorded at 24 per cent in 2015, a mere 0.6 drop from 2011.

"I admit that the (anti-smoking campaign) is not successful as the reduction is very small," he said.