Malaysia’s Lose-Lose Deal With GEG

Our Minister of Health, Khairy Jamaluddin mentioned that 400 Malaysians die of tobacco-related causes every week. Throwing such figures is sensational but does not provide a clear scientific representation of smoking-related death

Malaysia’s Lose-Lose Deal With GEG
Picture: NST

By Asir Fatagar, Editor Latest Malaysia

One of the utmost controversial bill proposals in Malaysia recently is the Tobacco and Smoking Control bill, known as Generational-End-Game. Small retailers have started to complain about this ban as it will hurt their business sales.

British American Tobacco (BAT) says the Ministry of Health’s decision to end smoking in a prohibition format is not the way to go. Added to Malaysia’s lack of enforcement for the law will only fuel illegal trading.

The Langkawi Chinese Chamber of Commerce claims that duty free retailers will lose business if the bill is passed. Furthermore, they mentioned their customer footfall will decrease. This will impact retailers with specific products.

One of the most shocking revelations in the issue is myNEWS, a major retailer in Malaysia, requesting the government to re-evaluate the bill. Similar to BAT, myNEWS also mentioned that this ban will fuel illegal, untaxed sales of tobacco even further.

Impact of illegal cigarettes

Currently, the market is flooded with illegal cigarettes with a whopping 60% share. Our Minister of Health, Khairy Jamaluddin mentioned that 400 Malaysians die of tobacco related causes every week. Throwing such figures are sensational, but it does not provide a clear scientific representation of smoking related death.

He did not mention how many died due to illegal cigarettes and legal taxed cigarettes. It is reported that illegal cigarettes contain more tar, toxins and other dangerous substances that are not in the legal cigarettes. The BBC in 2004 reported that illegal cigarettes contain 5 times the carcinogenic substances when compared to legal and taxed cigarettes. This is due to taxed cigarettes being regulated strictly by the government.

Government's priority

Instead of GEG, the government should prioritise on fixing the economy that is battered by Covid-19 and inflation. Furthermore, increasing enforcement and reducing corruption in the country should be our top priority instead of cutting tax revenue that this country is benefiting.

Lastly, if this tax revenue is cut, will the tax on normal food products increase further to cover the cost? Or will the government decide to reduce the subsidies on our essentials? In the end, this decision will make smokers and non-smokers alike pay.