Health Ministry wants cigarette firms to cut tar, nicotine content
He said this will be among the steps in phase two of the ministry’s anti-smoking drive from January next year till June 2015.
“We want tar content in a stick (of cigarette) to be reduced from 20 milligrames to 10 milligrames and nicotine from 1.5 milligrammes to one milligramme,” he told reporters after opening the national-level ‘No Tobacco Day’ at Sunway Pyramid here today.
Dr Subramaniam said the other steps included having the size of anti-smoking pictures on cigarette packs increased from 40 per cent (on the face of the pack) now to 50 per cent.
He said all the steps would be implemented gradually and that the ministry would also block direct and indirect promotion of cigarettes besides prohibiting offering of discounts for tobacco products.
“These included supporting community or sports activities though they may be for a noble cause,” he said, adding that Malaysia might also follow in the footsteps of Thailand and stop sale of cigarettes from racks displayed prominently but instead from drawers on demand from customers.
“In Malaysia, between 10 and 12 per cent or about 10,000 deaths of the total number of Malaysians dying annually are smoking related. In 2011, 11,056 deaths recorded in government hospitals were attributed to smoking.
He added that it was estimated that there were about four million smokers in the country.
Malaysians, particularly from the middle class, he said, spent between RM500 and RM600 a month on cigarettes which had huge implications on their economic wellbeing.
On the problem of cigarette smuggling, he said his ministry would work closely with the Customs Department and other relevant agencies to come down hard on both sellers and buyers of illicit cigarettes. – Bernama