JUNE 6 — Having recently returned from a vacation to Thailand, I feel compelled to share my observations on the efficacy of tobacco display bans and their potential implications for Malaysia.

As a Malaysian traveller, I was intrigued by Thailand’s efforts to restrict the display of tobacco products in retail stores, but my experiences during my visit have left me questioning the effectiveness of such measures.

Despite the implementation of a tobacco display ban in Thailand, it was evident that smoking remains prevalent. The local Thais, especially men, would just purchase their cigarettes from 7-Eleven outlets and smoke outside the convenience stores. It is as though the display ban ruling did not exist!

This observation raises doubts about the effectiveness of display bans in deterring smoking initiation and reducing tobacco consumption, as intended.

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Reflecting on the situation in Malaysia, where discussions about implementing similar measures have arisen, it is essential to consider the unique challenges and dynamics of our own context.

Unlike Thailand, Malaysia grapples with a significant illicit cigarette trade, which not only undermines government revenue but also complicates efforts to regulate tobacco sales effectively.

Furthermore, the emergence of vape shops across Malaysia adds another layer of complexity to the tobacco control landscape. These alternative nicotine delivery systems present new challenges and necessitate a re-evaluation of traditional tobacco control strategies.

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As a concerned citizen, I urge policymakers in Malaysia to learn from the experiences of other countries, such as Thailand, and to also recognise the limitations of a one-size-fits-all approach to tobacco control. Rather than solely relying on restrictive measures like tobacco display bans, a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of smoking behaviour is needed.

This approach should encompass initiatives such as robust enforcement of existing regulations, targeted public health campaigns, and support for smoking cessation programmes.

Rather than solely relying on restrictive measures like tobacco display bans, a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of smoking behaviour is needed. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Rather than solely relying on restrictive measures like tobacco display bans, a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of smoking behaviour is needed. — Picture by Farhan Najib

By taking a holistic and evidence-based approach to tobacco control, we can better address the complex challenges posed by smoking and nicotine consumption in Malaysia.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.