THE Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is calling for the implementation of plain packaging of cigarette packs to make it less ‘attractive’ to smokers, particularly women and youths.
Its president S. M. Mohamed Idris said Malaysia should follow in the footsteps of countries like France, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia in doing this.
“Australia is the first country to take Article 11 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control a step further by implementing plain packaging from December 2012.
“This means that cigarette manufacturers can only print the brand name and flavour in a mandated size.
“The appearance of all the packs is standardised and this includes the colour.
“As a result of the implementation, smoking rate dropped to 12.8% from 15.1% for people aged 14 years and above between 2010 and 2013,” he told a press conference at the CAP headquarters in Jalan Masjid Negeri recently.
Mohamed Idris said although cigarette packs in Malaysia currently carry pictorial health warning (PHW) occupying 50% of the front panel and 60% on the back, the tobacco industry is still able to use attractive designs and fonts to fill the remaining space.
He added that since the implementation of the PHW in June, 2009, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, Malaysia, reported that 92.8% of current smokers (93.2% of men and 74.7% of women) had noticed the health warnings on the packs.
“It shows that PHW is effective,” Mohamed Idris said.
According to statistics, smoking-related diseases kill about 10,000 (or 1 in 4) Malaysians annually. This is equivalent to having 250 buses, each carrying 40 passengers, crashing and killing all on board every year.