AUG 31 — Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Associations of Malaysia (FSGMAM) today said having less cigarettes at hand will push smokers to smoke less and address illegal cigarette trading in the country.
Calling on the government to consider implementing smaller cigarette packs of 10 sticks, Hong Chee Meng, the president representing more than 4,000 of FSGMAM members with an estimated 10,000 sundry shops in Malaysia said allowing small packs sale has its merits and should not be dismissed. Primary to that is that it would reduce overall consumption.
“We have a high number of smokers in the country because of illegal cigarettes. This needs to be reduced immediately. When there’s only packs of 20 sticks sold, people will smoke more and when there’s access to cheap illegal cigarettes, people will smoke more.
“A 10-stick pack will allow people to actually consume less. We see consumer patterns in the market and we believe that some smokers who have a habit of smoking one pack a day, will smoke less if there are 10-stick packs in the market,” he said.
Hong said that it was time due consideration was given to “real effective measures” that would reduce the problem of illegal cigarette trade.
“Illegal cigarette trade is harming the country in many ways, not just businesses. It is harming to socio-economic wellbeing of various parts of society and we need a solution now.”
He said he understood the sentiments for and against the proposal to introduce 10-stick cigarette packs in Malaysia but said that there must be a proper consideration on the matter.
“As parties at the frontline of businesses, we are seeing the seriousness of the illegal cigarette trade situation. We see how the consumers behave and we see enforcement is trying to control the situation. But enforcement alone is not the answer and more needs to be done to address the demand.
“This is where the 10-stick cigarette pack will play a role. It is not about encouraging smoking or about giving access to youth. There is a wider issue here to address total consumption.
Hong said FSGMAM believes that allowing for 10-stick cigarette pack to be sold is a necessary action because the prices of cigarettes are too expensive and that drives smokers to buy illegal packs instead – the illegal cigarette problem has gone out of hand and tough action needs to be taken.
“We can see the government has tried many measures to reduce consumption - more laws and regulations, increased taxes, conducted education and awareness activities. However many of these measures are not addressing illegal cigarettes and consumption has increased,” he said.
“We sincerely hope that the government will consider this proposal because we need to right solution for this serious problem,” said Hong.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.