Malaysia: Health Ministry hails cigarette price hike
PETALING JAYA (Oct 23, 2012): The Health Ministry has welcomed the decision by British American Tobacco (BAT) Malaysia to increase the prices of all its cigarette packs by 20 sen.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai reasoned that price increases are an effective deterrent to smoking and there has been a significant reduction in the number of smokers with each increase.
“This has been proven by our minimum pricing of RM 7. We are able to contain cigarettes as a luxury item. We don’t want youths to pick up smoking,” he said at a press conference at the ASLI Healthcare Forum 2012 at Sunway Medical Centre here yesterday.
Liow said the ministry is working with the customs and the Finance Ministry to prevent illegal cigarette sales and ensure the implementation of the minimum price.
He said measures such as graphic images on legally-sold cigarettes will make enforcement of cigarette sales easier because smuggled cigarette packs lack such features.
“The smoker can be charged with possessing or buying illegal or smuggled cigarettes,” he warned.
BAT Malaysia announced the price hike on Sunday, pointing to the customs’ mandated increase in the ex-factory pricing of cigarettes of between 26% and 58% effective last Friday.
Liow also said his ministry and the government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) have converted a Business Opportunities Lab into a Healthcare Entry Point Project (EPP) for senior citizens under the health National Key Economic Area (NKEA).
“We have converted the Senior Living business opportunities sector into an EPP under Senior Living. We will assist businesses in three specific areas – retirement villages, home or mobile care and nursing homes,” he explained.
He added that a special dialogue session on this new EPP will be held for investors and key players.
“We have to capture this opportunity to further improve the health sector and welcome more foreign investment in Malaysia,” said Liow.
Pemandu healthcare director Dr Chua Hong Teck said the new Senior Living EPP can generate RM1.3 billion in revenue by 2020.
“By 2020, 10% of our population would be 60 and above. By 2050, about 20% of Malaysians will be in this bracket,” said Chua.
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