KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 – The government’s proposal to prohibit the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products only targets those born from 2005, anti-smoking groups told coffee shop operators.
Ikram Health Malaysia said these people are currently aged below 18, the legal smoking age in Malaysia, and that the proposed generation smoking ban does not affect current smokers or those currently older than 18.
“Why would coffee shop operators be worried about contraband cigarettes for this group?” Ikram Health Malaysia head Dr Mohd Afiq Mohd Nor said in a statement yesterday.
“Isn’t it better for this generation to not smoke and to never smoke forever? What more smuggled cigarettes.”
He pointed out that for every RM1 in tax revenue collected from the sale of cigarettes, the government spends RM4 to treat smoking-related complications. This excludes the cost of treatment from vaping.
The Malaysian Green Lung Association said current smokers can continue to legally purchase cigarettes, even if Parliament approves the government’s proposal to outlaw smoking for those born from January 1, 2005.
“Besides that, this Generation End Game non-smoking group is not a target market for illicit cigarette traders either. Without demand, there won’t be supply. So, MSCSPGA’s concern about a rise in the sale of illicit cigarettes is baseless,” Malaysian Green Lung Association chairman Ho Rhu Yann said in a statement.
New Straits Times reported the Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association (MSCSPGA) as saying in a statement last Friday that the government’s proposed generation smoking ban could affect coffee shop businesses.
MSCSPGA president Wong Teu Hoon reportedly cast doubt on the proposed ban, pointing out that nearly 60 per cent of cigarettes sold in the country are illegal.
The Malaysian Green Lung Association said the onus was on the Customs Department to combat the illicit cigarette trade, not on the Ministry of Health (MOH), whose role is to draft health-related policies.
“MSCSPGA should be putting pressure on the party that is directly dealing with the problem of smuggling and border control.”
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin plans to table a Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill in the upcoming Parliament meeting in July which, among others, will contain a proposal to ban the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes or vape products to everyone born from January 1, 2005.
If Parliament passes this legislation, people born on and from that date will not be able to legally purchase cigarettes and vaping products from January 1, 2023 — or ever in their lifetime.