Retail body says small packs can curb illicit cigarette trade

An association representing coffee shop owners also disagrees with the term ‘kiddie packs’ to refer to cigarrete packs of 10 sticks.

PETALING JAYA: An association representing coffee shop owners nationwide has urged Putrajaya to allow smaller cigarette packs in the market, saying it would stop smokers from purchasing cheap illegal cigarettes.

“We see smaller packs as a pragmatic measure that will move adult smokers away from buying illegal cigarettes,” said the Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association chairman, Ho Su Mong.

He said there were smokers who find legal cigarettes were priced beyond their means.

“So they ask for illegal packs selling at RM3 to RM5,” Ho said.

He said small packs would make smokers stop buying illegal packs, and help retailers sell legal packs instead of illegal packs.

“If there are smaller packs, they will be less expensive than the current packs of 20 sticks,” he said.

The health ministry recently said it would approve the sale of 10-stick packets of cigarettes known as “kiddie packs”, as the law prohibits the sale of cigarettes in packs of less than 20 sticks.

Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam said this was consistent with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which Malaysia is a signatory to.

But Ho said legal cigarettes are too expensive and this contributed to the demand for illegal ones.

“Retailers who are law abiding are fed up of losing business to irresponsible operators who sell illegal cigarettes and sell to minors,” he said.

Ho also disagreed with the term “kiddie packs”.

“We do not understand why the anti-tobacco NGOs are calling smaller packs as kiddie packs when the kiddie packs we know are the ones selling at RM3 to RM5 per pack of 20 sticks now,” he said.

He said there should be a better plan to eliminate such illegal cigarette packs.

He added that smaller legal packs would not affect underage smoking, saying youngsters today can easily buy the illegal packs at RM3 to RM5.

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