The government is looking to outlaw smoking for the next generation, said Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin.
To achieve this, he said they are planning to prohibit the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to people born after 2005.
Speaking recently at the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) executive board meeting in Geneva, he said the country hopes to pass legislation to this effect this year.
With the legislation, he said, they hoped it would bring about a “generation endgame to smoking”.
“We want to make it illegal for the sale of tobacco and other smoking products to anyone born after 2005.
“This will have a significant impact on preventing and controlling NCDs (non-communicable diseases),” he said.
He said there should come a time when the next generation will no longer know what a cigarette is.
According to Malaysia’s 2020 report to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, one in five (21.3%) people aged 15 years and older in the country are smokers.
Khairy’s announcement comes a week after he said the government plans to table a Tobacco and Smoking Control Act in the next session of the Dewan Rakyat.
Tobacco products are currently covered under the Food Act 1983, and Khairy said the new law would regulate e-cigarettes and vape products and eventually phase out smoking.
The health ministry estimates that there are 27,000 tobacco-related deaths annually in the country due to illnesses like heart disease, cancer and stroke.
About 15% of the 27,000 tobacco-related deaths were also found to be non-smokers who died from exposure to second-hand smoke.