BAT Malaysia: Generational End Game policy is akin to prohibition

WHILE commending the Health Ministry’s (MOH) pro-active stance in reducing the health impact of smoking, British American Tobacco (M) Bhd disagrees that prohibition is the way to achieve such goal.

Putting its foot down, the only listed cigarette manufacturer on Bursa Malaysia today has likened the proposed generational smoking ban as “effectively prohibition” that has never been tested in the real world, lacks any scientific evidence of effectiveness and is likely to be detrimental to our country’s health agenda.

“Prohibition will fuel the illicit tobacco market which already accounts for almost 60% of tobacco sold in Malaysia and accordingly, will have negative consequences to public health,” BAT Malaysia’s managing director Nedal Salem pointed out in yet the strongest resentment by the cigarette manufacturer to date.

“Fuelling the illicit tobacco market doesn’t just line the pockets of criminals. It will have a significant impact on Malaysia’s economy, already struggling to recover from the global pandemic. Industry, jobs and growth will be impacted, and government revenue will fall significantly.”

Nedal Salem

On the contrary, BAT Malaysia believes in a holistic approach which strengthens:

  • The role of harm reduction and less harmful alternatives to smoking.
  • Policies which encourage adult smokers to switch to those alternatives (although these products are not risk free and are addictive); and
  • The enforcement and control of the illicit tobacco market to ensure that cigarettes cannot be more easily accessed than less harmful alternatives and comply with specific tobacco control policies.

“The MOH should pursue a science-based regulatory framework, informed by the positions of countries such as New Zealand and the UK where vaping is acknowledged as significantly less harmful and a viable alternative to reduce smoking prevalence,” noted Nedal in a media statement.

“Our belief is that tobacco harm reduction is the most effective way to reduce the health impacts of smoking without fuelling the growth of tobacco black market and criminalising against entire future generations.”

Nedal further shared that BAT Malaysia is in favour of a more balanced tobacco control measures (as seen in New Zealand and the UK) which will support smokers switching to less harmful alternatives instead of an outright prohibition.

“We also call on the MOH to include industry players in the overall consultation process in developing appropriate regulations for vapour products,” he added.

BAT Malaysia was up 18 sen or 1.69% to RM10.80 at the close of yesterday’s (July 25) trading with 232,300 shares traded, thus valuing the company at RM3.08 bil. The counter has retreated from a 52-week high of RM15.24 over uncertainties linked to the imposition of the Generational End Game policy. – July 26, 2022

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