The government will enforce a minimum price for cigarettes on Jan 1. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Liow Tiong Lai said the Attorney-General’s Office had agreed to the move and that a ruling on it had been be gazetted for enforcement beginning next year.
“The government has to fix a minimum price to make it difficult for adoloscents to buy cigarettes, Besides this, it is also aimed at preventing dumping of cheap cigarettes in the country when the Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) comes into force in January,” he told reporters at Parliament;s lobby Wednesday.
The minimum price that has been suggested for a 20-stick cigarette pack is RM6.20.
Liow said with smokers numbering some three million people or about 11 per cent of the population, there was a great urgency to introduce the minimum price ruling.
The move would also help curb smuggling of cigarettes, which usually had higher toxic contents, into the country, he said, adding that the ill-effects of smoking was already widely known.
However, he said to ban cigarettes outright would be too drastic a move but the government had taken various initiatives to help Malaysian smokers kick the habit, like special clinics for the purpose and large-scale advertising to discourage smoking.