PETALING JAYA: Amid claims that the Health Ministry is bulldozing a new anti-tobacco Act, some quarters raised concerns about the likelihood of a digital tracking system that may be introduced as part of the new law.
Sources told StarBiz that there are efforts underway by two companies – Green Packet Bhd and Privasia Technology Bhd – to get the Health Ministry’s approval for the new system.
The system seeks to complement the “Generational End Game” plan to ban the use, possession and sale of cigarettes and vape products for those born after 2007. It also aims to address the long-standing issue of rampant illicit cigarettes in Malaysia.
A person with information on the matter said the project, if approved, is likely to be awarded on a direct negotiation basis and not open tender.
“This tracking system idea will not be effective in fighting illicit cigarettes and will only add on to the cost that will eventually be passed on to consumers.
“We already have a tax stamp on cigarette boxes for many years. It is also digitally-enabled, but it never managed to address the illicit cigarette issue.
“How will this new idea be any different than the tax stamp?”
Bernama had reported that the Health Ministry is considering several mechanisms for the sale of all types of tobacco products, including the use of QR code.
Following this, during the Dewan Rakyat sitting on Monday, Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen had questioned whether a tracking system would be introduced and what mechanism would be adopted for the system.
Based on the document sighted by StarBiz, a consortium of Green Packet, Privasia and France-based IN Groupe has proposed an end-to-end system called Tobacco Track and Trace (TTT).
Under the TTT system, a security label will be introduced for tobacco products. The label is said to contain “multi-level of security with ultra-thin definition image enabling three levels of authentication.”
“There isn’t any security label applied on tobacco products.
“It is critical for the Health Ministry to introduce the latest and most advanced holographic technologies from well-established security printer as security labels on top of tobacco products,” according to the document presented to the ministry.
Via the TTT system, the consortium noted that tobacco products can be securely distributed from the factory to the final consumers.
“Once the end-to-end TTT system ecosystem is ready, the migration to digital stamps can be done easily.
“Users will have access to a complete history of distribution of the goods.
“The Health Ministry will be able to monitor the complete tobacco products distribution,” according to the document.
The TTT project is estimated to take 13 months for a full rollout.
A tobacco company spokesperson said the entire industry is against the introduction of the TTT system.
“Under the Tobacco Product and Smoking Control Bill 2022, section three requires the registration of tobacco products. This will apply for importers, manufacturers and distributors of tobacco products.
“We suspect the government will use this requirement to introduce the TTT system.
“Under the existing act, a registration is not required for tobacco products,” he said.
Meanwhile, a source said that the existing tax stamp on cigarettes can also be scanned electronically to identify whether the tobacco product is duty-paid.
“But, the tax stamp is not effective in stopping illicit cigarettes. Statistics show that six out of 10 cigarette sticks out there are illicit,” he said.
The source pointed out that tobacco companies were paying seven sen for each tax stamp used on a box of cigarettes.
“A company called Lembah Sari Sdn Bhd manufactures the tax stamps and makes seven sen for each stamp.
“I’m not sure whether the new TTT system will replace the tax stamp or complement it. Either way, there are many questions about how effective the new system will be in fighting illicit cigarettes and preventing those born after 2007 from smoking,” he said.