The enforcement of the smoking ban failed in restaurants, the Generational Endgame will increase illegal trade 

KUALA LUMPUR, 18th Sep 2023 – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has just published a Report on the Roundtable Discussion on Smoking Product Control in Public Health: Room for Improvement held on 23 August 2023 recently at the Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. 

Representative of the Malaysian Consumer Choice Center, Tarmizi Anuwar said: “The main purpose of the round table discussion is to get alternative views from experts in various fields as well as comprehensively assess and scrutinize the bill taking into account health, legal, economic and feasibility aspects. In addition, this report aims to provide proposals for improving the bill to the Special Select Committee, the Ministry of Health and policy makers.”

In addition, Tarmizi emphasized that this report is important to be examined by policy makers to ensure that the Generational Endgame policy to be implemented is studied more deeply and takes a more practical and feasible approach to reduce smoking rates in Malaysia.

“Policy makers should examine the essence of this report because our concern is that this tobacco bill will end up with an increase in illegal trade and the lack of a comprehensive impact assessment especially on consumers.”

“In addition, the Government also needs to carry out a more meaningful and quality engagement process to ensure that every stakeholder is properly involved in the consultation process. We don’t want to just be given a 10-to-15-minute presentation but not have any further discussion after that.”  

According to YB Dr. Afif Bahardin who is the Taman Medan assemblyman, he thinks that Generational Endgame will fail due to lack of resources and human capital. This is based on his experience dealing with the Ministry of Health while serving as the Member of the Penang State Executive Council who tried to make Penang a smoke-free zone but was unsuccessful. 

“In Malaysia, the illegal trade is rampant and from my point of view GEG will fail, just like how Penang tried to do it before. We need to focus on how to control smoking. There are currently no vaping regulations and no regulations on nicotine levels. Get support from everyone not only from enforcement but also for the community. Also, instead of focusing on introducing new bills. Restaurants still have people smoking, enforcement needs to be there. I think supporting community education is much more important than imposing new laws”, he said.

In addition, Kue Kok Meng as the President of the Petaling Jaya Coffee Shop Association said that until now the Ministry of Health or law enforcement cannot control the current laws such as smoking in restaurants. 

“In the coffee shop I don’t see law enforcement coming to ban people from smoking. The government has made all the advertisements but people still smoke. Most importantly, the responsibility of enforcement should be done by enforcement agencies and not coffee shops.”

According to Benedict Weerasena until May 2021, illegal cigarettes continue to increase and emphasizes the importance of enforcement to deal with the issue of illegal trade before introducing the end generation policy. 

“The impact on GEG for retailers is lost revenue, compliance costs, equipment costs, monitoring costs, opportunity costs and legal fees. Based on our study, the total enforcement cost for GEG is estimated at RM 303 million per year including tobacco track costs, public awareness campaigns, administrative costs, additional enforcement to curb the growth of the illegal cigarette market.”

“We don’t want to be like South Africa in March 2020 when their government introduced a ban on the sale of tobacco products. But 93% of smokers can still continue to buy cigarettes and the average price has increased by 250%. If this matter is not controlled it creates a negative perception that our country prioritizes smuggling over legitimate sources.” he said. 

Download the full report here



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