The government must use the golden opportunity of the upcoming Budget 2018 announcement this week to address smoking addiction among Malaysians and the sale of cigarettes in the country.
The issue can no longer be tolerated, as it will affect the health of our society and the future of our younger generation.
If the government is really serious in addressing the problem, then Budget 2018 is the ideal platform.
There are many ways to deal with the issue, and for the last few days, several individuals have suggested that the government increase the price of cigarette packs to RM50 or RM100, as well as increasing the tobacco tax.
Besides possible strong opposition from smokers themselves, these suggestions should be seen positively and welcomed by all in the country, as it allows those addicted to the substance to think before wasting their money on it.
It would surely prevent youths from purchasing cigarettes, as it will be beyond their financial capabilities to have it in the first place.
The money derived from such plans can be used by the government to conduct more programmes and activities aimed to deter smoking among the population.
The income can be channelled to schools throughout the country for them to conduct similar programmes and activities to prevent youth from getting exposed and addicted to nicotine.
It also be channelled to any relevant NGOs in the country for them to conduct research into more effective ways to deal with the issue.
Additionally, the funds can be used to improve and strengthen existing enforcement agencies in controlling the sale of cigarettes in the country and put a halt to the smuggling of illicit cigarettes into the country.