By Free Malaysia Today

Tobacco control and children’s rights groups are suing to quash a decision by the Health Minister to delist liquid and gel nicotine as poison, and to prevent vape products and e-cigarettes from becoming readily accessible to minors. — BERNAMA

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has rejected the bid by anti-tobacco and child rights interest groups to stay the declassification of liquid nicotine as a scheduled poison.

The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, the Malaysian Green Lung Association, and Voice of the Children had sought a judicial review to quash the removal of liquid and gel nicotine from control under the Poisons Act 1952, gazetted by the Health Minister in an exemption order on March 31.

According to CodeBlue, Justice Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh said the applicants needed to demonstrate special circumstances to justify the stay of the exemption order.

“Before a decision can be exercised in favour of the applicants, this court must have some material before it.

“The grounds must be particularised in the affidavit of support, and it must be shown to this court of the existence of special circumstances that would warrant the grant of a stay of the impugned exemption,” he said during a virtual court hearing today.

The court then dismissed the groups’ stay application without any additional costs and ordered for the hearing to commence on Dec 6.

Last month, the court granted the applicants leave to challenge the removal of liquid and gel nicotine from control under the Poisons Act 1952 after receiving no objections from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

However, the AGC objected to the applicants’ request for a stay on the Health Minister’s exemption order, arguing that there were no special circumstances to justify stay proceedings and likened it to an injunction.

The applicants, represented by lawyer Edmund Bon, argued, among others, that there was a “clear, grave, and obvious danger to public health, particularly children’s health” if the exemption order was allowed to stand pending the disposal of the suit.

The judicial review application, filed by solicitors Kanesalingam & Co in the High Court in June, named the Health Minister and the government as respondents.

The applicants say the minister did not adequately consider the views of the Poisons Board, and failed to engage with it, despite the board’s unanimous vote against the exemption. They also said the minister had acted illegally, irrationally, and with procedural impropriety.

They said the impugned order, made under section 6 of the Poisons Act, is ultra vires Article 66 of the Federal Constitution, which exclusively reserves for Parliament the power to make laws.

It is also beyond the scope of the powers delegated by Parliament to the minister, they added.