Cigarette prices to increase by month-end

By P PREM KUMAR & ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

RETAIL price of cigarettes is expected to increase later this month following the recent re-implementation of the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (picture) said the tax increase under SST will see prices for all tobacco products, including cigarettes, to rise in line with the Control of Tobacco Regulations 2004.

“The move is not intended to harmonise the market price. As stipulated in the regulation, the price should be increased according to the previously approved rate.

“The price of one tobacco product with another is different, so the increase will not be the same between the type of cigarette brands and variants,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

He said the Health Ministry is finalising the new prices, which will be realised in three weeks.

In a separate note, Dr Dzulkefly said an MP was among eight people fined for smoking in the Parliament building on Monday, after the building became a smoke-free zone.

He said the non-smoking area in the legislative building will be expanded to include non-air conditioned eateries, which is expected to be enforced in the first quarter of next year.

Meanwhile, the government has raised the minimum age for alcohol sales from 18 to 21, effective immediately.

Dr Dzulkefly said retailers will now be required to display health warning labels that state the harmful effects of alcohol.

“It will take three to six months to get everyone to comply. We will give a bit of leeway for now, but after the stipulated time, we would want all to abide by the new regulation,” Dr Dzulkefly added.

The minister said under the amended Food Regulations 1985, a new Compounded Hard Liquor (CHL) standard has been established to control the safety and quality of alcoholic products and to provide accurate information to consumers.

CHL is an alcoholic beverage produced from whiskey, rum, vodka and brandy with added ethyl alcohol derived from agriculture, or distillate derived from agriculture.

Dr Dzulkefly said the new standard also stipulates that CHL products are only allowed to be sold in glass bottles with a minimum volume of 700ml.

The amendments made to the regulation were in line with the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol which was signed by all health ministers during the World Health Assembly in 2010 to reduce the availability of alcoholic beverages in the market.

Failure to comply with rules on CHL is an offence and upon conviction, will be fined not exceeding RM10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years.