If the authorities can stop the young from smoking, they are less likely to smoke when they are older. (FILE PIC)

THE most effective way to control tobacco is pricing and taxation. The World Health Organisation proposes that the tax imposed on cigarettes should be at least 75 per cent of the retail price.

However, increasing the tax on tobacco and increasing the price of cigarette packs have led to increased sales of illicit cigarettes, which are cheaper.

Now there are calls for kiddie packs, or smaller packets with 10 sticks of cigarettes, to be reintroduced to reduce sales of illegal cigarettes. But this move will defeat the government’s intent to reduce smoking and will entice young people to smoke.

Malaysia aims to be a smoke-free country by 2045.

The Health Ministry has mapped out a year-by-year
plan up to 2045 to reduce tobacco usage.

The government has focused on discouraging people from smoking by reducing their access to cigarettes by strict licensing, reducing their affordability by price hikes and taxation, limiting smoking zones and raising the age of smoking.

Illicit cigarettes, sold in small packs, contravene smoking laws.

To ensure that illicit cigarettes do not come into the country, Customs officials should step
up checks to stop illicit brands from coming into the country.

Taxation is the most effective way to control tobacco.

Another measure to prevent smoking is to raise the legal age for buying and smoking tobacco products from 18 to 21.

According to the 2015 National Health & Morbidity Survey, there were 500,000 teenagers who smoked and were at risk of reduced lung function and growth as well as heart damage.

Nicotine in cigarettes is one of the most addictive substances known and nearly all smokers become addicted as adolescents, with 80,000 to 100,000 children picking up the habit worldwide.

If we can stop the young from smoking, they are less likely to smoke when they are older because they would be more matured and well informed.

Cigarettes should not be sold in smaller packets, which would make it affordable for young people and children.

Reducing people’s access to cigarettes is also important to stop the habit.

Young people are tempted to smoke if they can buy cigarettes easily, for example, coffee shops and mamak shops.

It’s estimated that 40 per cent of men and 1.4 per cent of women in Malaysia are smokers.

Smoking is linked to 16 cancers, 25 life-threatening diseases and results in the death of 20,000 Malaysians each year.

Smoking kills six million people a year globally. Two out of three smokers die from cigarette smoking-related diseases.

SAMUEL YESUIAH

Seremban, Negri Sembilan