CIGARETTE PRICES: Higher taxes, fewer smokers
By S.M. Mohamed Idris, Consumers Association of Penang president, Penang
30 July 2012| last updated at 07:36AM
http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/cigarette-prices-higher-taxes-fewer-smokers-1.115730 THE government should raise cigarette prices to RM30 from the current RM10 for a pack of 20 sticks if it is serious about curbing the scourge.This is because using price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco is one of the most effective ways to reduce cigarette consumption. This measure is recognised by tobacco control experts and the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), of which Malaysia has been a party since 2005. The government should aggressively implement Article Six of the FCTC by proposing a heavy tax on tobacco and its products in the next budget.
At present, with the minimum cigarette price at RM6.40, it is obvious that cigarettes are comparatively cheaper in Malaysia than in countries that have serious anti-smoking measures. Compare this with the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes in Australia, which is equivalent to RM52, Norway (RM45), Ireland (RM38), the United States (RM37.80), the United Kingdom (RM32) and Singapore (RM29). In a 2008 study, it was found that if taxes were to produce a 40 per cent increase in cigarette prices, the number of American adults smoking would decrease from 21 per cent in 2004 to 15 per cent in 2025. Closer to home, research conducted in 2006 in Thailand to evaluate the impact of tobacco tax being increased from 75 per cent to 79 per cent, leading to a 15 per cent increase in price, revealed that 58 per cent of smokers smoked less. Ten per cent of the smokers surveyed had actually quit.
According to the Health Ministry's 3rd National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2006, there were almost three million smokers in Malaysia, made up of 2.8 million adults and 200,000 minors below 18. Malaysia has a smoking...
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