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Govt plans minimum price for cigarettes

PUTRAJAYA, 29 Oct 2008: The government plans to impose a price floor for all cigarettes as part of efforts to check the smoking habit, especially among youths.

Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said all quarters, including the industry and the cabinet in its meeting on 17 Sept 2008, had agreed to the introduction of the minimum price by year end.

He told reporters today that the ministry was in the final stage of drafting the Control of Tobacco Products (Sale of Tobacco Products) Regulations 2008 to implement it.

“According to a study by the World Bank, taxes on tobacco and the price of cigarettes in the market are the most effective strategies in controlling the use of tobacco especially by children, youths and low-income earners.

“The government is very committed to protecting the younger generation by reducing their accessibility to cigarettes,” he said.

Liow said the minimum price would be determined by taking into account all government taxes and the profit made by the cigarette industry.

He added that the minimum price would likely be not less than 30 sen per stick.

The minimum price, Liow said, would be adjusted each time there is a change in taxes.

New regulations

Under the proposed regulations, retailers found guilty of selling cigarettes below the minimum price could be fined up to RM10,000 or sentenced to jail not exceeding two years or both, he said.

Additionally, according to the Control of Tobacco Products (Amendment) Regulations 2008 gazetted on 15 Sept, cigarette packs in Malaysia must have picture warnings beginning from January 2009.

Cigarette packs must also have information on cigarette content, a statement on the prohibition of sale to people below 18, the manufacturer’s or importer’s name and address, the date of manufacture, and the number of sticks per pack.

“By June 1, cigarettes which do not have the all these must be withdrawn from the market,” Liow said.

Following the amendment also, the use of false, confusing and deceptive descriptors and terms which could create misconception, such as “low tar”, “light”, “ultra-light” and “mild”, is prohibited with immediate effect, Liow said.

The new regulations also saw National Service training centres being turned into no smoking areas for to all trainees, staff and visitors.

Meanwhile, the no smoking areas at shopping complexes now include five foot ways around the building.

Liow said the amendments were made to fulfil the government’s commitment to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Malaysia has been a party to since December 2005.

He said those found breaking the regulations would be fined up to RM10,000 or sentenced to jail not exceeding two years or both.

So far this year, 2,622 smokers have been slapped with compound fines totalling RM564,000 while 1,946 cases had been brought to court, he said. — Bernama


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