THR approaches would help reverse the problem caused by smoking across the country.
Earlier this month, Malaysia’s health minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced a ban on the sales of cigarettes and safer nicotine alternative products to anyone born in 2005 or beyond. The plan was released at the 150th session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board meeting where Jamaluddin said the hope is that the legislation is finalized this year and that it would bring about a “generation endgame to smoking.”

“This is by making it illegal for the sale of tobacco and other smoking products to anyone born after 2005,” said Jamaluddin, “Malaysia feels that it will have a significant impact on preventing and controlling NCDs (non-communicable diseases),” he added.

The health minister stated that there will come a time when the next generation “will no longer know what a cigarette is.” However, a local medical practitioner with experience in addiction therapy in Malaysia, Dr. Arifin Fi recently highlighted that tobacco harm reduction (THR) approaches would help reverse the problem caused by smoking across the country.

Following his attendance at the recent virtual Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum (GTNF) 2021, he insisted that Malaysia needs to look for innovative solutions to manage the local high smoking rates. “This is where tobacco harm reduction (THR) can be particularly beneficial, as it would allow smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives in their journey to quit completely,” he said.

Bans feed black markets

Meanwhile, the RTBA mentioned the economic repercussions of the ban. The group’s managing director Datuk Fazli Nordin said that legal businesses will be forced to close down as the black market will then dominate the market. A dipstick survey by the RTBA revealed that 85% of those surveyed on the matter said that the ban would not work and would only create a black market for the products.

Fazli Nordin said that he understands that the Ministry of Health has good intentions, but that he is choosing the wrong strategy. “Banning is not a solution. For example, vape products containing nicotine are currently prohibited from being sold in the market.

“Yet, there is consumer demand for vape products containing nicotine. Worst still is the tobacco black market, where Malaysia has the highest level of illegal cigarettes in the world, driven by the huge price gap between legal and illegal products,” he said in a recent statement.

Read Further: NST

Malaysia: The Local Vape Industry Wants to be Regulated

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