Malaysiakini Letter

Cigarettes: Why not ban 14's packs immediately?

SM Mohamed Idris  |  Published:  |  Modified:

CAP welcomes the news that the graphic warnings placed on cigarette packs and in local dailies are working - especially if these shocking pictures are deterring youngsters from taking up the smoking habit.

The magnitude the smoking epidemic in Malaysia cannot be downplayed.

More than 50% of Malaysian adult males are smokers. About 50 Malaysian children below the age of 18 take up smoking every day.

Not to mention that approximately 10,000 Malaysians die every year from smoking-related ailments, making it one of the top killers in the country.

We were concerned to note recently that after 10 years of government anti-smoking campaigns, there has only been a two percent drop in the number of smokers.

Even more stringent measures are needed and the government must unequivocally state its stand against the tobacco menace.

Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai has indicated that his ministry is working towards getting the 14-stick cigarette packs phased out by next year, making it harder for youngsters to buy cigarettes.

Why the delay? Why not institute an immediate ban?

The ban on packs smaller than 20 sticks was already targeted for July 2005. It was then deferred till mid-2006. The stay on the ban of 14 packs was then extended till 2010.

Section 16(1) of the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 clearly states: ‘The manufacturer shall pack the cigarettes in a packet containing not less than twenty sticks of cigarettes'.

Why does the government continue to condone the illegal sale of these 14 packs?

The writer is president, Consumers Association of Penang .

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