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Anti-smoking NGO slams coffee shop owners over kiddie packs

 | August 30, 2017

Criticising association over call to revive packs with less than 20 sticks, Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control says reasons given are baseless.

mctc-Molly-Cheah-kiddie-pack-1PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) has criticised those calling for the government to reintroduce “kiddie packs”, that is, cigarette packs containing fewer than 20 sticks.

MCTC was responding to a call by an association representing coffee shop owners in the country to allow the sale of such packs as it would stop smokers from purchasing cheap illegal cigarettes.

“The proposal mooted by lobbyists on grounds that current pricing and packaging in Malaysia has resulted in the increase in the consumption of illicit cigarettes is baseless,” MCTC president Dr Molly Cheah said in a statement today.

“Other reasons being given to support the reintroducing of the kiddie pack, including that the current 20-stick pack encourages people to smoke more and the increase in retail price not being a deterrent to smokers, are simply not true and unfounded.”

Cheah added that the policy and legislation on the ban on the sale of individual sticks and small affordable packages, termed kiddie packs, were based on the following facts:

  • To deter the young and the poor from purchasing small quantities of cigarettes, as in packs containing less than 20 sticks;
  • To deter and discourage new smokers from trying to explore smoking, especially among the poor and young.

“The mere fact that there has been no significant increase in prevalence of smoking in Malaysia proves that this policy has worked, consistent with international research findings and recommendation by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

“Therefore, any attempts by any organisation to reintroduce the kiddie pack will be regressive and will undermine the national policy on tobacco control,” Cheah said.

She added that the function of eliminating illicit cigarettes was the responsibility of the customs department and every Malaysian citizen.

“It is the duty of all under the law to report to authorities any known activities contravening any law.’

Taking a swipe at the Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association specifically, Cheah said as a trade organisation, they should know their role to respect the rule of law and to conduct business with social responsibility.

In addition to calling for the continued ban on “kiddie packs”, Cheah also urged the government to address the issue of illicit cigarettes by imposing severe penalties against those caught smuggling tobacco products, including the confiscation of personal properties of those convicted.

“MCTC also calls for the government to impose a new ban on all food premises from selling any form of tobacco products,” Cheah said.

On Aug 23, Health Minister S Subramaniam dismissed talk that smaller, 10-stick packets of cigarettes known as “kiddie packs” will be sold in the market.

He said the ministry would not give approval for the sale of such packets as the law prohibits the sale of cigarettes in packs of less than 20 sticks.

“The rumours of the ‘kiddie packs’ being sold are not true. The ministry has not endorsed it.

“Legislation prohibits the sale of small packs of cigarettes of fewer than 20 sticks. This is also consistent with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which Malaysia is a part of,” he told FMT.

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