New Policies Won't Work To Stop Illegal Cigs

According to Wong, coffee shop proprietors and other retail businesses will have to bear the costs of compliance if the tobacco product display ban is to be implemented.

New Policies Won't Work To Stop                                                   Illegal Cigs


KUALA LUMPUR, 24 JUNE 2022 - The Malaysian Government must conduct a comprehensive analysis of the economic impact and the most effective enforcement strategy to address illegal cigarettes before introducing a smoking and vaping ban for future adults and other tobacco control policies such as plain packaging and ban on display of cigarettes, said the Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association (MSCSPGA) in a statement today.

The comments from the association, which represents over 20,000 coffee shop operators nationwide, came following recent news report that the Government plans to introduce a new law to ban the use of tobacco and vape for those born after 2005, plain packaging and display ban on tobacco products.

Wong Teu Hoon, President of MSCPGA, commented, “The proposals won’t stop smokers as illegal cigarettes are easily available. These new proposals will not work, given close to 60% of cigarettes sold in Malaysia are illegal. Ministry of Health should focus on stopping illegal cigarettes in the market instead of coming up with new policies that will further fuel illegal cigarettes in Malaysia.”

According to Wong, coffee shop proprietors and other retail businesses will have to bear the costs of compliance if the tobacco product display ban is to be implemented. Similarly, it will add complexity to businesses if plain packaging and ban on the sale of tobacco and vaping products are introduced in Malaysia.

“Most businesses are slowly getting back on their feet after two years of severe business disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Proposals like this are going to impose burden on retail and also impact our businesses.”

MSCPGA said that the implementation of a smoking ban for those born after 2005 would come with a hefty price for its members.

“The responsibility of enforcing this will fall on us just like when the smoking ban at eateries was implemented. We will be the ones doing the ID checks, making the whole process more tedious. In turn, the customers will find these checks troublesome and instead turn to illegal cigarettes operators that are readily accessible and at a much lower cost rather than quitting altogether.”

“Eventually, the rate of illegal cigarettes will continue to increase, and our business revenue will be affected. Already we saw our members suffer from the decline in sales of legal cigarettes, as many smokers are turning to purchase illegal cigarettes,” Wong explained.

Given this, MSCPGA urges the Government to discuss with all retailer associations to understand the economic impact of the proposed bans as well as discuss effective enforcement strategies to stop illegal cigarettes.

“The Government should prioritise its efforts to stop the illegal cigarette trade. If the Government can stop the illegal cigarette trade with a continued awareness campaign, this will effectively reduce the smoking prevalence in Malaysia.” Wong added.