The proposal to increase the price of a pack of cigarettes to RM50 in light of the coming Budget 2018 announcement is seen as small and might be futile to our ongoing struggle to prevent the smoking habit among our people especially among the youth.
If the government is serious to stop the addiction of our citizens to such an item, the government needs to take bold steps on such issues, namely by increasing the price of each pack of cigarettes to RM100; this will automatically turn cigarettes into luxury items whereby most people can no longer afford to buy it.
Increasing the price of cigarettes can be seen as one of the most effective ways to reduce cigarette consumption and addiction among smokers as well as having the ability to deter potential new smokers.
This measure has also been recognised by several tobacco control experts and also the parties in the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO – FCTC) of which Malaysia is a Party since September 2005.
Since smoking has been regarded by many as a cause of many preventable illnesses and can even lead to premature death, there have been many efforts carried out over the years by the government to control and curb the cigarette selling and smoking habit among the public.
Sadly, no positive results have yet to appear from all the efforts which have been taken. Though the price of cigarettes keeps increasing from year to year, it is still not enough to stop our citizens from purchasing and consuming it.
This is because such increases are not drastic enough to make people rethink many times before purchasing it. As such, drastic measures need to be taken in order to force people to consider that smoking cigarettes will not only affect their health but will also severely affect their wallets.
DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Syariah & Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM).
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