Retailers Face An Uncertain Future With Smoking Ban

The ban will also drive those born after 2007 to the illegal market, thus making the control even more difficult to manage in the long term.

Retailers Face An Uncertain Future With Smoking Ban

myNEWS Retail SDN BHD appealed to all MPs to re-evaluate their decision to approve the Tobacco Bill tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Health, Mr Khairy Jamaluddin, for its first reading yesterday.

According to the bill, those born after 2007 will no longer be allowed to smoke, buy or possess any type of tobacco product like vape.

If this bill is approved, the revenue of our over 500 outlets across Malaysia will be affected. We have just stepped out of the Movement Control Order shadow, gradually getting back on our feet.

We believe this ban will fuel the growth of illegal cigarettes even more. With a market share of over 60%, the enforcement agencies are already struggling to stop the illegal cigarette trade. A total ban allows the smuggling syndicates to control the entire market. Will the enforcement agencies be able to stop this? The ultimate beneficiary of this ban will be the criminal syndicates.

The ban will also drive those born after 2007 to the illegal market, thus making the control even more difficult to manage in the long term.

It will be challenging to implement the ban as it rests entirely on the shoulders of the retailers or end sellers who are required to comply with this rule. We will need to ask for the buyer’s identification card to ensure that the buyer meets the age criteria to buy cigarettes. This contradicts The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (“PDPA”), and not everybody is comfortable sharing their personal information with strangers.

In addition, this process can be time-consuming, and we will now have to consider increasing the number of employees, as an adequate workforce is needed to ensure we can tend to all our customers promptly. To make it worse for our industry, section 17 disallows those born after 2007 opportunities to work with us.

Section 17 of the bill spelt out the penalties for those born in 2007 and beyond for possessing tobacco products even though they are not smoking it. Young workers are essential for the sustainability of our industry. myNEWS Retail SDN BHD express great concern about the heavy penalties of minimum RM20,000 if we fail to comply with the extreme bill.

myNEWS Retail SDN BHD is disheartened that we were not invited to express our views on this tobacco bill. We should have been part of the engagement.‌‌At this juncture, the government should emphasise educating the future generation on cigarette and tobacco harm reduction before implementing new laws restricting their freedom of choice.

It is equally important for the government to stop or at least reduce the prevalence of illegal cigarettes in Malaysia before considering any ban.