Malaysia is set to adopt a law, which will successfully ban all promotional prices and discounts on cigarettes, trying to discourage tobacco use, Richard James, director of corporate affairs at Philip Morris Malaysia revealed.
At present, tobacco companies operating in Malaysia, are allowed to provide 5% discounts during one month, not more than 3 times a year. Such offers are usually carried out during the launch of new products.
According to Mr. James, Philip Morris International Malaysia, which manufactures Marlboro, Parliament and L&M cigarettes, is not opposing the new initiative by Malaysian Ministry of Health, since tobacco companies were notified about the measure.
“In case the reason for the ban is making tobacco products less affordable, then we can’t be against that. In addition, we had been given sufficient time to prepare,” he added.
However, since the ban on discounts has not been publicly announced yet, it is not clear how and when it will be implemented and enforced.
“Although the measure was not announced it, we have been informed about it by the government, so that we could adjust our business strategies to exclude the discounts,” James mentioned.
In addition, the government has recently banned sales of single cigarettes, and small packs of 10 cigarettes, and increased floor price per pack of 20 cigarettes, in a bid to make cigarettes unaffordable for adolescents and young adults.
Philip Morris corporate affairs director admitted they are not criticizing the new measures, saying that understand that 20-stick pack ruling was implemented as a means of combating contraband and illegal tobacco sales.
“We understand the necessity to introduce regulations for tobacco industry, since smoking can be harmful for people’s health.”
Malaysia is home to one of the strictest anti-smoking policies in the Asia-Pacific region. The country has prohibited all forms of tobacco advertisements, imposes laws on minimal retail price on cigarettes, and requires all tobacco companies to receive approval on retail price of all tobacco products from the Ministry of Health, before they are able to sell them.
In addition, cigarettes selling in Malaysia, come with large and graphic health warnings, depicting cancerous lungs and throat, which cover 40 percent of the front side of the pack and 60 percent of the back side, being the second-largest warnings in the region, behind those, required in Australia.
With a 15 % share of the market, Philip Morris International is the third-largest tobacco group in Malaysia, after British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International.