With new policies, comes sugar tax and no more midnight snacking?

New rules may  see eateries operating only until midnight. — Picture by K.E.Ooi.
New rules may see eateries operating only until midnight. — Picture by K.E.Ooi.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — The government is in the midst of introducing 13 new health policies to fight the rising trend of non-communicable diseases (NCD) among Malaysians which will be implemented in the next two years.

New Straits Times reported today that a special Cabinet Committee for a Health-Promoting Environment last week had discussed the issue to come up with new policies on promoting healthier living.

A new policy will see restaurants and eateries' operating hours limited until midnight, which will be carried out in stages. Excise tax will also be imposed on sweetened beverages.

In 2015, Prime MInister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said that Putrajaya was maintaining round-the-clock eateries because it would inconvenience the public if their opening hours were curbed.

The government will also be banning advertisements on food and drinks with high fat, salt and sugar content while cultivating the habit of eating fruits and vegetables in schools, communities and workplaces.

Food advertisements will be regulated under the Malaysian Advertising Code, under the Communications and Multimedia Act.

On the other hand, sports equipments will be exempted from import duties; and gym operators, privately owned playgrounds; sports complexes, academies and centres will enjoy tax exemptions.

Newly-launched housing areas must also provide “green areas” including bicycle lanes, and the government will also gazette hiking areas that have not been gazetted as conservation areas.

The government will also strengthen enforcement against the sale and distribution of illegal cigarettes and introduce a programme to quit smoking called mQuit in public and private universities.

Civil servants must also keep themselves healthy as their NCD risk levels will be taken into consideration during the hiring process and also in performance evaluation and in determining promotions.

The government will also offer enhanced health screening services through various approaches and carry out national health campaigns focussing on NCDs and ensure that schools provide only nutritious food for students.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said he and his ministry will be responsible in “drawing up the key policies” and spearhead the campaigns to promote a healthier nation.

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