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Malaysians Give Thumbs Down To Cigarette & Vape Ban

Malaysians Give Thumbs Down To Cigarette & Vape Ban

Malaysia has been credited as the #1 country in the world where the cigarette black market is flourishing and still lacks proper policies on regulating vaping products.

Akmal Hakim

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Everyone knows that smoking is a terrible habit, but will banning it work to stop smokers at all?

Well, it seems that some Malaysians aren’t so sure that an all-out ban is a correct answer.

Recently, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar announced that he plans to table a “generational smoking ban” law in Parliament.

For those who don’t know what it is all about, the ban would basically outlaw people born after 2005 from legally purchasing tobacco and smoking products.

Read More: Malaysia Wants To Make Smoking Illegal For People Born After 2005

Now, Khairy explained that the law would need further back and forth between experts and stakeholders before it could be passed — if it passes at all…

Not everyone is happy with the proposal.

Sarawakian lawmaker Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing slammed the proposal and expressed his strong opposition to the idea.

He suggested the government should focus on educating the public, especially schoolchildren, about the dangers of smoking instead of threatening to take away their liberties.

“People say Keluarga Malaysia, This is not Keluarga Malaysia, this is Ugutan Malaysia”. Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing was reported saying so in Parliament as reported by CodeBlue.

Meanwhile, Former Law Minister Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim said that the ban was cruel and rather populist because it pits the pockets of the rich against the poor.

While this initiative may be a clever way of permanently banning smokers from enjoying their puff for good, it will not prove successful in eliminating smoking. It is just another punishment for those who smoke. Today the price of cigarettes is sky-high. It is unaffordable to most smokers, yet it does not stop them from smoking.

Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim via New Straits Times

Zahid pointed out the ban would just force people from low-income communities to smoke illicit products that are evidently more dangerous.

Smokers know cheap tobacco will kill them faster, but they have no choice because they like to smoke.

Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim via New Straits Times

This opinion was shared by economist and Centre for Market Education CEO Dr Carmelo Ferlito who explained that even the high taxes rates placed on smoking products are actually detrimental.

A tax hike on cigarettes will only make many poor households even poorer. This is because smoking is income-inelastic, meaning that as incomes grow, smoking products consume a much smaller portion of a household’s expenditure. Greater tax burdens on the poorest households make the purchases of necessities like healthy food, clean water and adequate shelter more difficult. Some studies have found that working-class consumers in high-income countries opt for cheaper tobacco products to reduce expenditure.

Dr Carmelo Ferlito via New Straits Times

Carmelo added that a smoking ban would only benefit criminals by spurring illegal trade — resulting in revenue loss to the country and endanger the public as unregulated illicit products become more widespread.

HELP University’s Institute of Crime and Criminology lecturer R. Paneir Selvam also says that the ban would create a social domino effect that’ll encourage more people to smoke instead of staying away from the habit.

Young adults are often tempted to rebel and seek for forbidden pleasures. So, a generational tobacco ban intentionally targets them might actually provoke them to start smoking.

R. Paneir Selvam via New Straits Times

Pundits pointed out that instead of a smoking ban, the government should be looking at regulating and promoting less harmful ways for people to consume and change their habits.

(Credit: tommyandone via Evanto Elements)

Countries like New Zealand have managed to bring down their number of daily smokers from 16% in 2012 to just 9% in 2021 by advocating the use of less harmful smoking products like vapes.

Similar results were seen by other countries like the United Kingdom, Sweeden, Norway and Japan that have installed proper laws and regulations on vaping products.

Read More: 42% Quit Smoking Using Vape In Malaysia

As it stands, Malaysia has been credited as the #1 country in the world where the cigarette black market is flourishing and still lacks proper policies on regulating vaping products.


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