PUTRAJAYA: Amid concerns over the proposed reintroduction of the 10-stick 'kiddie cigarette pack' in the Malaysian market, 57 non-government organisations (NGO) have joined forces in submitting a petition to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the Ministry of Finance and the Health Ministry today.
The delegation was headed by the president of of Malaysian Family Medical Specialists Association, Dr Norsiah Ali.
"We were informed that the government is planning to reintroduce the kiddie cigarette pack to combat the sales of contraband cigarettes. We are totally against the idea because it will bring about more health problems," Norsiah told reporters at the PMO.
"We know that smoking is the gateway to other forms of substance abuse and addiction. We do not want people to suffer from brain damage caused by the 4,000 harmful chemicals in a pack of cigarettes."
Hailing Malaysia as a nation of smokers, the medical doctor said the high sin tax and ongoing anti-smoking campaigns championed by the Health Ministry will fail if the public, especially youngsters, have easy access to the 'kiddie pack'.
"We have about 23 percent of smokers in this country and the percentage of smokers has remained unchanged for the past 30 years," claimed Norsiah. "We can't seem to be able to quit smoking."
According to the Civil Society Organisation (CSO) campaign co-ordinator, Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah, 34,000 people have signed the online petition since its launch last week.
Among the 57 NGOs supporting the movement are the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca), National Cancer Society of Malaysia, the Addiction Medicine Association Malaysia, the Malaysian Nurses Association and the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP).
In early September, the Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors General Association (MSCSPGA) chairman, Ho Su Mong said the availability of only the 20-stick cigarette packs since 2010 has resulted in retailers losing out their sales to the illicit cigarette market.
Ho, along with four major national associations representing 40,000 retailers, supported the reintroduction of the 10-stick cigarette packs aimed at combatting illegal cigarette trade and reducing total consumption of cigarettes in Malaysia.
The four representatives of the associations had signed a memorandum asking for the government to bring back the sale of the 10-stick cigarettes packs. The letter was sent to the PMO.
Ho claimed that the reintroduction of the 10-stick cigarette-packs would be able to bring down the illegal tobacco trade by 10 to 15 per cent.