Malaysia seeks to phase out tobacco smoking completely, a world’s first

Malaysia strives to become the first country in the world to put a complete end to smoking of tobacco, starting with the youngest generation.

The health ministry has announced that it will present a Tobacco Control and Smoking Bill in the parliament in July. If passed, the new legislation would prohibit those born in and after 2005 from buying, possessing or consuming tobacco products, including cigarettes and vapes, or e-cigarettes.

That way, the law would ban access to tobacco and nicotine not only for the youth, but all future generations, a strategy the ministry has termed “generational end game:”

“This is the end”

Health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that if the law is passed and enforced effectively it can result in “significantly better health outcomes” for many years to come.

“[This is] The end for smoking and tobacco. There are those who believe that banning is never the solution; I am determined to make this work,” the minister said.

Government statistics show that one in five Malaysians 15 years of age and older smoke, of which 40 per cent are men. There are more than 27,000 smoking-related deaths in the country annually.

Large black market

But there are some who disagree with the proposed law, arguing that such bans never work and would just drive more smokers to the black market.

It is widely known across Malaysia that there exists a thriving black market for tobacco products. A study conducted in 2020 by the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers concluded that more than 60 per cent of cigarettes consumed in the nation were from the black market, mainly supplied by illegally imported cigarettes which often sell for less than half the price of legal ones.

A tobacco ban would add to the problems and “severely jeopardise the livelihood of our 20,000 merchants,” the confederation said, noting that cigarette sales account for about 30 per cent of their revenue.

No international experience

There are no international empirical values on a complete tobacco ban since no country has imposed it yet.

New Zealand recently announced plans to raise the legal smoking age by one year each year to permanently ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 2008.

Singapore has been planning since 2010 to totally ban access to tobacco products by all those born in 2000 and beyond, a proposal which has strong public support.

Brunei has introduced a stringent tobacco licensing policy, importation tax, smoke-free zones and a total ban on vape which has made tobacco products virtually impossible to obtain.

Higher legal age

The Australian state of Tasmania plans to raise the legal smoking age to 21 and advocates a legislation barring the sale of tobacco to individuals born after 2000.

Bhutan became the first country to completely outlaw the cultivation, harvesting, production and sale of tobacco products already in 2004, but grants small allowances for personal possession and use.



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Malaysia strives to become the first country in the world to put a complete end to smoking of tobacco, starting with the youngest generation. The health ministry has announced that it will present a Tobacco Control and Smoking Bill in the parliament in July. If passed, the new legislation would prohibit those born in and after 2005 from buying, possessing or consuming tobacco products, including cigarettes and vapes, or e-cigarettes. That way, the law would ban access to tobacco and nicotine not only for the youth, but all future generations, a strategy the ministry has termed “generational end game:” “This...

Malaysia strives to become the first country in the world to put a complete end to smoking of tobacco, starting with the youngest generation.

The health ministry has announced that it will present a Tobacco Control and Smoking Bill in the parliament in July. If passed, the new legislation would prohibit those born in and after 2005 from buying, possessing or consuming tobacco products, including cigarettes and vapes, or e-cigarettes.

That way, the law would ban access to tobacco and nicotine not only for the youth, but all future generations, a strategy the ministry has termed “generational end game:”

“This is the end”

Health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that if the law is passed and enforced effectively it can result in “significantly better health outcomes” for many years to come.

“[This is] The end for smoking and tobacco. There are those who believe that banning is never the solution; I am determined to make this work,” the minister said.

Government statistics show that one in five Malaysians 15 years of age and older smoke, of which 40 per cent are men. There are more than 27,000 smoking-related deaths in the country annually.

Large black market

But there are some who disagree with the proposed law, arguing that such bans never work and would just drive more smokers to the black market.

It is widely known across Malaysia that there exists a thriving black market for tobacco products. A study conducted in 2020 by the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers concluded that more than 60 per cent of cigarettes consumed in the nation were from the black market, mainly supplied by illegally imported cigarettes which often sell for less than half the price of legal ones.

A tobacco ban would add to the problems and “severely jeopardise the livelihood of our 20,000 merchants,” the confederation said, noting that cigarette sales account for about 30 per cent of their revenue.

No international experience

There are no international empirical values on a complete tobacco ban since no country has imposed it yet.

New Zealand recently announced plans to raise the legal smoking age by one year each year to permanently ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 2008.

Singapore has been planning since 2010 to totally ban access to tobacco products by all those born in 2000 and beyond, a proposal which has strong public support.

Brunei has introduced a stringent tobacco licensing policy, importation tax, smoke-free zones and a total ban on vape which has made tobacco products virtually impossible to obtain.

Higher legal age

The Australian state of Tasmania plans to raise the legal smoking age to 21 and advocates a legislation barring the sale of tobacco to individuals born after 2000.

Bhutan became the first country to completely outlaw the cultivation, harvesting, production and sale of tobacco products already in 2004, but grants small allowances for personal possession and use.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

 

 

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