Tobacco Firms Point Out Real Threat

Smaller cigarette packs of 10 sticks will provide an alternative to adult smokers now caught between unaffordable legal packs or the cheap illegal cigarettes, says British American Tobacco Malay-sia (BAT).

There is a segment of adult smo-kers who have chosen to continue smoking and because they are unable to afford a pack at RM17, they have resorted to smoking illegal cigarettes sold at RM3 to RM5, it said in a statement.

BAT said the biggest threat to the business is illegal cigarettes that have a market share of up to 60%.

Packs of 14 sticks were banned in 2010 while small packs of seven and 10 sticks were banned several years before that. Since then, excise on ci--garettes has, over the years, increased significantly.

Theoretically, total consumption should have decreased if the simplistic conclusion is that if people cannot afford to smoke, they would quit.

However, statistics independent of the tobacco industry have shown that total consumption of cigarettes has increased.

People have just moved from legal to illegal cigarettes, said BAT.

Another tobacco company, JT International, said illegal cigarettes are the real ”°kiddie packs”± as they are sold at RM3 to RM5 per pack.

”°These are the ones that have caused youths to start smoking,”± the company said in a statement.

JT International said the growth of illegal cigarettes over the years has raised overall tobacco consumption and the number of smokers, with three million out of the estimated five million smokers in the country now using contraband products.

”°We acknowledge the strong views and opinions against the small packs, but there is a critical absence of real solutions being put forward to tackle the problem, other than calls for more enforcement,”± it said.

JT International said small packs have not caused an increase in total consumption, or the number of smo-kers and youths taking up smoking in Malaysia for the past 10 years.

”°Illegal cigarettes did,”± it said.  Enditem