Ministry to counter indirect cigarette advertising
TOBACCO firms have been accused of using subtle tactics to exploit loopholes in the law to increase their sales.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said although advertising had been banned by the government, the tobacco companies were using the loopholes to carry out indirect advertising.
“We have many strategies to reduce smoking but people are selling cigarettes from behind cashier counters,” he said at the opening of the two-day Fifth Malaysian Conference for Tobacco Control 2013, themed “Ban Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship”, here yesterday.
“That is an indirect way of advertising as we have banned sponsorship by tobacco companies and formal advertisements.
“We have to find ways to overcome this.”
One of the speakers, Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control deputy president Dr Mymoon Alias, said although point-ofsales advertisements were banned, it was not being enforced.
“The tobacco industry is monitoring and paying retailers to display the cigarettes in specific areas as they know it will make an impact,” she said.
She pointed out that Thailand had managed to lower the number of smokers by nine per cent due by banning such advertising strategies,
Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control secretary Shaari Ahmad Junid said it was also important that tobacco products did not enjoy tax incentives under the Asean Free Trade Agreement.
He said if cigarettes fell under the FTA, it would become cheaper but what we want is the opposite.
Health Ministry Disease Control Division senior principal assistant director Sukhvinder Singh said the ministry had drafted a Tobacco Control Bill long ago but presumed that it had never seen the light of day because of the influence of the tobacco industry.
World Health Organisation Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore representative Dr Graham Harrison said this was a critical issue for Malaysia because of the high number of male smokers.
“There pressure is on for adolescents and young people to start smoking and the tobacco industry is using whatever tactics it can to make smoking look attractive to women as well,” he said(The Malay Mail).