Customs director-general Datuk T. Subromaniam appeared to be in denial, as he commented , “It (tax increase on cigarettes) is merely a measure to reduce the number of smokers in Malaysia and increase tax revenue. We cannot solely blame taxation for the rise in illicit cigarettes.” On a larger scale, Malaysia’s tobacco industry has taken a hit. In the first half of 2017, British American Tobacco – the country’s biggest cigarette manufacturer – reported a drop in 22.1% of revenue when compared to the same period in 2016. The decreasing revenue trend continues with further contraction of the legal cigarette market. According to Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), excise duty should constitute at least 70% of the final retail price. The government had been quick to implement excise tax that constitutes roughly half of retail price today. However, the same speed did not apply to FCTC’s guidance on tobacco control programmes. The revenue collected from cigarette sales was used to finance local smoking cessation programmes like mQuit . From the year 2016 to 2019, the Health Ministry targets to help 390,000 smokers quit the habit. The targeted quantity of smokers is only equivalent to 7.8% of the current smoking population, and resources allocated are evidently insufficient.
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