KUALA LUMPUR — Oct. 23, 2017: The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) is backing a proposal to increase the retail price of cigarettes to as high as RM50 per pack.
The current price for a premium pack of 20 is RM17.
MCTC president Dr. Molly Cheah said the council agrees with the proposal mooted by Malaysia Youth Council secretary-general Ahmad Saparudin Yusuf who suggested that the price increase be included in the 2018 Budget to be tabled on Thursday.
“This will make cigarettes more unaffordable, especially to youths, and will deter them for picking up the habit. In addition, the authorities should go hard on the illicit cigarette business,” she said.
Vice-president of the Federation of Malaysia Consumers Association (Fomca) Mohd. Yusof Abdul Rahman also supports the proposal.
He also wants the government to improve enforcement to curb the availability of smuggled cigarettes.
“It is pointless to increase the price of cigarettes if smokers can resort to buying smuggled cigarettes from the black market.”
According to The National Health Morbidity Survey of 2015, about five million Malaysians aged 15 and above were smokers.
The government spends about RM3 billion annually to treat smoking-related diseases which include but not limited to coronary heart disease, lung cancer and chronic lung ailment.
Incidentally, a proposal like this comes much too late to be considered for next year’s budget, which under normal circumstances is prepared several weeks ahead of the tabling.