Eleven organisations have welcomed the government’s proposal to discuss a ban on the sale of cigarettes to people born after a fixed date.
They also proposed a ban on the smoking and planting of cannabis in homes, as well as on the sale of e-cigarettes from all supermarkets and stationaries.
The associations range from entities set up to combat poverty and homelessness, to others run by the Church or focused on advocating for pensioners.
In a statement on Friday, they said that any initiative to limit smoking and its uptake by new youngsters is a courageous step.
The government is proposing discussions to ban cigarette sales to people born after a certain date, effectively creating the first smoke-free generation. The measure was proposed in a public consultation document issued on Monday by the Social Policy and Children’s Rights Ministry.
The Medical Association of Malta (MAM) immediately reacted to the idea by saying the ban should also include cannabis.
The organisations reacting on Friday said the effort to improve the health of the younger generations is a breath of fresh air, particularly in the context of a society where the economic advancement of the few is often given precedence over the common good.
“We have observed an increase in the use of e-cigarettes amongst our younger generations. Vapes are being sold to minors from a number of establishments, including stationery shops. These electronic cigarettes come in highlight colours to attract attention. Although more studies are coming out, research clearly shows that vapes are harmful to health, contradicting the false impression of many.”
The organisations said they agreed with MAM when it came to cannabis, which they described as "another harmful legal substance that was becoming increasingly accessible to children and younger persons".
“Following the introduction of the cannabis legislation in 2021, we are observing an increasing number of children who are making use of cannabis, even openly near schools.
"These children maintain that they see no harm in using cannabis once it has been legalised, although research is continuously exposing new facts on harms originating from cannabis use.”
The groups said they are also concerned that while there may be some entities that approve of the initiative to ban smoking for the younger generations, there has been hardly any disapproval of the law which is meant to promote the responsible use of cannabis, and this on the basis of human rights.
“One particular flaw is that the same cannabis law does not offer any protection to minors whose guardians decide to smoke or cultivate at home,” they said.
The organisations proposed a ban on the smoking and planting of cannabis in homes, as well as the sale of e-cigarettes from all supermarkets and stationaries.
They called on the public, especially parents, to support any initiative that strengthens the physical, psychological and mental health of children, in particular initiatives and activities that steer the younger generation away from any substance abuse and addictions.
The statement was signed by the following:
- Anti-Poverty Forum
- OASI Foundation
- Alleanza Kontra il-Faqar
- Catholic Schools Association
- The Secretariat for Catholic Education
- YMCA – Malta
- SOS – Malta
- National Association of Pensioners
- Soup Kitchen OFM Valletta
- Saint Jeanne Antide Foundation
- Paolo Freire Institute