by David Christy
THE anti-smoking law in New Zealand was reduced to ashes by the new government because it needed the money from cigarette taxes.
In Malaysia, the Generational Endgame Bill (GEG) was incinerated because of a provision that violated the Constitution. So we are told.
Congratulations to Mr Big Tobacco and your allies. You have done it! More will certainly give up the ghost before you die. You are not weeping about that, are you?
We only learnt early last month about the constitutional impediment. But the attorney-general insists his chambers “have consistently, every time, given our legal views since 2022 that the generational endgame provisions in the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill can be challenged in court because it contravenes Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, as those provisions create unequal treatment before the law between a person born before Jan 1, 2007, and a person born on or after Jan 1, 2007”.
But none of the three parliamentary special select committees that previously reviewed the GEG came to this conclusion.
And the leaders shepherding the bill and shaping the narrative did not say anything about the matter before last month. Why is this so? Were they unaware of the constitutional issue when they spoke about the law from last year?
As recent as June, the government said it remained committed to ensuring that the bill was approved soon for the sake of future generations.
Bah! So things have changed now?
In this time of conflict and so-called enlightenment, folks wonder why wrongdoers are able to get away with what they have done.
But how naive we are. People or industries that do harm have money. They have allies and governments that depend on them. They have power.
Their sins can be ignored or reviewed at some distant time in the future because they have the financial and military and political muscles to twist too many arms.
Big Tobacco is one of them. It also vigorously pushes the smuggling/loss of tax card. And the use of vape as a healthy alternative to smoking. Many are willing to repeatedly voice these arguments for it. They sound like parrots, look like marionettes. ‘Expert’ pronouncements never came so easily.
The industry is firing away on all fronts and our government (three administrations) barely lets out a squeak. A whimper is more like it. That is what this writer thinks.
Congratulations, Mr Big Tobacco. You have won. The writer’s prayer is this: when your time comes, surely it must be death by a thousand cuts. You deserve it.
Source: New Straits Times (29 Nov 2023)