Prohibition Will Fuel The Illicit Tobacco Market – BAT Malaysia

BAT Malaysia commends the Minister of Health’s pro-active stance in reducing the health impact of smoking but does not agree that prohibition is the way to achieve it.

The proposed generational smoking ban is effectively prohibition. Further, it has never been tested in the real world, lacks any scientific evidence of effectiveness and is likely to be detrimental to our country’s health agenda.

Prohibition will fuel the illicit tobacco market which already accounts for almost 60% of tobacco sold in Malaysia and accordingly will have negative consequences to public health.

Fueling the illicit tobacco market doesn’t just line the pockets of criminals. It will have a significant impact on Malaysia’s economy, already struggling to recover from the global pandemic. Industry, jobs and growth will be impacted, and Government revenue will fall significantly.

BAT Malaysia believes instead in a holistic approach which strengthens:
• the role of harm reduction and less harmful alternatives* to smoking.
• policies which encourage adult smokers to switch to those alternatives; and
• the enforcement and control of the illicit tobacco market to ensure that cigarettes cannot be more easily accessed than less harmful alternatives* and comply with specific tobacco control policies.

The Ministry should pursue a science based regulatory framework, informed by the positions of countries, such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom, where vaping is acknowledged as significantly less harmful and a viable alternative to reduce smoking prevalence.

Our belief is that tobacco harm reduction is the most effective way to reduce the health impacts of smoking without fueling the growth of tobacco black market and criminalizing against entire future generations.

In parallel introducing some of the more balanced tobacco control measures, seen in these same countries will support smokers switching to less harmful alternatives and should be considered instead of prohibition.

We also call on the Ministry to include industry players in the overall consultation process in developing appropriate regulations for vapour products.

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