Looks like we have to rely on smuggled cigarettes if this is implemented: According to Utusan Malaysia, the Malaysian Youth Council (MBM) has recently proposed to the government to hike up the price of cigarette packs up to RM50 per packet.
MBM stated that the main reason of the proposal is to turn cigarettes into a luxury item so that it’ll be ridiculous to buy on a daily basis and harder for the youth to acquire. Based on their ‘research’, cigarettes can be a gateway that helps the youth get involved with drugs and premarital sex, which can lead to unwanted pregnancies and the increase of HIV.
Another local publication Malaysian Digest spoke to a HELP Economics lecturer who explained the demand of cigarettes here in Malaysia.
“Even if prices are raised, consumers, or smokers for that matter, will still consume almost the same number of sticks or packets of cigarettes. This is because cigarette smoking is a form of addiction and smokers cannot easily withdraw from this habit,” she explained.
She continued to state that if consumers find the increase in price too high due to the high tax rate, they might lessen their cigarette consumption – at least in the short run. Consumers will continue to feed their addiction by looking for substitutes. So by hiking up the price of cigarettes, consumers will only opt for cigarettes with a lower price. It’s a window of opportunity for smugglers to sell it below the market price.
Malaysian Digest also compiled the opinions of laymen on the subject, which you can read in full here.
To offer our own layman opinion on the matter – of course smoking at a young age can be damaging, focus could be on reinforcing and requesting for sellers to be stricter on the age limit instead. Increasing the price and the age limit will not solve the problem as children need to understand why smoking is bad. It all comes down on being educated properly, but at the same time, ensure that it is not too forceful to a point they become rebellious.
Speaking of expensive, read about how DJ Khaled bought a 100K watch for his baby son.