KUALA LUMPUR: A 20-stick pack of cigarettes now costs RM10.
Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants’ Association president Lean Hing Chuan said the association received a letter from a tobacco company on Saturday informing the association of the price increase effective today.
Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Donald Lim confirmed yesterday a 70 sen increase from the previous price of RM9.30.
Lean said the price increase would affect cigarette sales which he predicted would drop by 10%.
He said cigarette smuggling activities might also increase.
It is learned that there are more than 100 types of smuggled cigarettes in the market.
A 20-stick pack which is smuggled only costs between RM3 and RM3.50.
Lean said cigarette smugglers could capture 35% to 37% of the cigarette market at the moment.
“With the price increase, this may rise to 40%,’’ he added.
He urged the Government to look into cigarette smuggling activities.
Most retailers said the price adjustment this time round was the highest, as previous increases were just between 10 sen and 30 sen.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the cigarette price increase was a good opportunity for smokers to kick the habit.
He added that the price increase was a key factor in helping to reduce the number of smokers in the country.
Another move was working with other parties, including non-governmental organisations.
“Be firm in quitting smoking. It is not good for health.” he said yesterday.
Liow added that the ministry had clinics which could help smokers quit the habit.
“They can teach you the methods. And it’s free,” he added.
In George Town, the Malaysia Council for Tobacco Control urged the Government to increase the prices even higher.
Council president K. Koris said the Government should add another RM1.30 on top of the 70 sen increase.
“This increase will be a vital step in stopping people from smoking, and I urge the Government to announce this during the Budget speech this month,” he added.
He said research had proven that an increase in tobacco prices would reduce tobacco consumption.
“The Government should also ban smoking in all air-conditioned places and enforce the anti-smoking law thoroughly,” he added.
Koris said cigarette sales would likely go down by 20% to 25% if the RM1.30 increase was announced.
He has also called on the Government to ban duty-free outlets in airports and ports from selling duty-free cigarettes to Malaysians entering the country.
“Malaysians who come into the country should not be allowed to buy cigarettes. They should only be allowed to buy when they are leaving the country,” he said.
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