Proposed licensing aimed at curbing illegal distribution of tobacco products, says minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — The proposed licensing of tobacco and tobacco products is aimed at curbing the illegal distribution of tobacco products in the market, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mah Siew Keong.

He said the enforcement of the regulations could help reduce the sale and use of illegal tobacco products, as well as leakages in tax collection by the government.

It is also in line with the government’s commitment under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) protocol to stem the distribution of tobacco, including cigarettes illegally.

The enforcement will ensure that the government complies with all provisions under this protocol, as well as raise Malaysia’s stature image in regulating tobacco and smoking, Mah said in a statement issued after chairing a joint consultation session with industries on the proposed implementation of licensing for the distribution of tobacco and tobacco products, here today.

Mah said the consultation was aimed at obtaining feedbacks from various parties, especially the tobacco industry representatives, dealers and retailers on the enforcement of licensing for tobacco and tobacco products as enshrined under the National Kenaf and Tobacco Board Act 2009 (Act 692).

He said if the problem were to get out of hand, it was feared that tobacco products such as cigarettes would not only affect the country’s revenue, but also would lead to health and social problems, and crime.

Several Asean countries such as Brunei, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have implemented the licensing for the distribution of tobacco and tobacco products to address the problems.

Mah said the Kenaf and Tobacco Board has provided the infrastructure, logistics and licensing system, while its employees were prepared to implement the regulations.

The consultation session was attended by 38 representatives from manufacturers Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Tobacco Ransmark Company, local tobacco producers, restaurants and retailers association, and non-governmental organisations (the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations and Penang Consumers Association) and cigarette distributors.

The ministry has conducted the consultation sessions with stakeholders since 2011.

There are 80,000 cigarette distributors in the country, according to the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers. — Bernama

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