The Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors General Association (MSCSPGA) lambasted the authorities for closing an eye on illegal cigarette sales in Malaysia, saying the authorities squabbling over a curb on illegal cigarettes have dragged more youths to smoking the cheaper stuff.
The association says the government should come with a decision on its proposed introduction of a legal 10 sticks pack of cigarettes as a pragmatic tool to address illegal cigarette trade and reduce overall smoking consumption.
The association calls upon NGOs to take into consideration that the authorities, including Ministry of Health, have said that the incidence of smoking, especially amongst the youth, have gone up over the years due to the widely accessible and affordable illegal cigarettes. Illegal cigarettes are being sold at RM 3-5 for 20 sticks pack.
The legal 10 stick packs will have to be priced higher because it is taxed, unlike those cheap packs, said the association.
“By not addressing this reality, NGOs are only helping the illegal cigarette trade to continue to flourish and harm the very people they want to protect.
“If we truly want to reduce overall smoking and accessibility, we need to fight the real threat which is illegal cigarettes,” said the association chairman Ho Su Mong.
He said while all parties are fiercely debating the merits of introducing small packs cigarettes, the illegal cigarette manufacturers and traders have now introduced large packs of 25 sticks pack in the market compared to the legislated 20 sticks.
These large packs having been gaining smokers in the market which may mean that smokers of illegal cigarettes are now smoking more than what they used to.