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GEORGE TOWN, Nov 22 — Malaysian smokers burned through 11,588.7 million sticks of cigarettes which meant a total RM9.9 billion may have gone up in smoke last year, the Penang Consumers Association (CAP) asserted today.
CAP president SM Mohd Idris said the number was equivalent to 579.4 million packs of cigarettes.
“If each pack costs RM17, the total value of consumption would be RM9.9 billion which means Malaysians burned away an equivalent of 34 per cent of the healthcare allocation of RM29 billion in the 2019 Budget,” he said in a press conference at the CAP office.
He said the a-pack-a-day habit cost smokers RM510 each month, which could buy 28 meals for four persons.
“With this amount of money spent on smoking, the smoker can buy a whole chicken to cook every day for a month,” he said.
He further claimed that it would cost the government RM7.4 billion to treat major smoking-related diseases by 2025.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 20,000 Malaysian male adults die from smoking-related complications every year.
Mohd Idris said smokers are at risk of developing more than 30 smoking-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, blindness, erectile dysfunction and overall diminished health.
“There are more than one million smokers who are under the age of 10 years in Malaysia and most of the 4.7 million smokers in the country started smoking before the age of 18,” he said.
He welcomed the government’s ban on all forms of smoking in public places like restaurants and eateries.
“More than 80 per cent of Malaysians who do not smoke have a right to not be exposed to tobacco smoke,” he said.
He claimed there are more than 4,000 noxious and cancerous chemicals found in tobacco.
“All forms of smoking and vaping should be banned in eateries and eateries should not be allowed to sell cigarettes because it contains nicotine which is a Class C poison,” he said.
He also called on the authorities to step up raids to get rid of illegal cigarettes and that those caught selling smuggled cigarettes should have their assets seized and be jailed for it.