Smokers Face Drastic Cigarette Price Hike & The Vaping Limbo

cigarette price hike

The latest cigarette price hike announced after Budget 2016, effective November 4, 2015, hit smokers in the country amidst other hikes in prices.

British American Tobacco Malaysia (BAT Malaysia) led the raise in the cigarette prices following the increase in excise duties of more than 30%.

The new cigarette prices are as follows:

Dunhill range
Benson & Hedges
Peter Stuyvesant
Pall Mall
Lucky Strike Plain
Shuang Xi

A pack of Dunhill, used to be priced at RM13.80 for a pack of 20 sticks, is now RM17.00. That’s an additional RM3.20 per pack. If you an average smoker who goes through a pack every two days, you will be spending RM255 a month on cigarettes, a spike of RM48 a month.

Though the move is lauded by many segments of the societies (except for smokers), the timing of the hike is questionable. Shortly after the toll hikes that saw an increase of up to 100%, the cigarette hikes will definitely be hitting smoking Malaysians hard.

According to Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramanian, Malaysia’s Health Minister, an estimated of 38% of men and 1.4% of women in Malaysian have a smoking habit. This equates to roughly 4.7 million smokers, out of nearly 30 million Malaysians.

The highest number of smokers among men is between 15 to 24 age group, he added.

Malaysia is ranked 71st in per capita cigarette consumption, with an average of 549 cigarettes smoked per adult annually. This worrying trend had the Government introduced various measures to curb smoking.

Showing cigarette packaging in advertisements had been forbidden in 1995, and tobacco advertisement was also outlawed in 2003, while print media advertising by cigarette companies had been restricted to only one page.

In 2009, the Government further implemented a minimum price for cigarettes, which has been reviewed several times since them, as well as implemented minimum number of sticks per pack at 20, while banning smaller packs.

In June 2010, it became an offence to smoke at private office spaces with central air-conditioning.

All these efforts together with the continuous increment of sin tax has made smoking a restricted endeavour in the country.

cigarette hike

Finding respite in vaping

For those who are buckling under the pricing pressure, they may think of turning to vaping as a likely respite. However, their hope of puffing at a more affordable cost may be dashed as the Health Ministry is currently banning the presence of nicotine in vape liquids.

The Health Ministry said it will confiscate nicotine content found in e-cigarettes from all traders nationwide.

The Ministry’s concerns on the rise of vaping among Malaysians include the long-term effects of inhaling vapours containing nicotine, formaldehyde and propylene glycol.

“I cut down my cigarettes by 50% ever since I started vaping. It’s not just about cost but I believe without the smoke and tar, vaping is not as harmful as cigarettes,” said Kenneth Cheah, 27, who used to smoke two packs a day.

To Cheah, though vaping is not healthy per se, it is still a better alternative to smoking.

While the health risks of smoking are well established, the dangers involved in using e-cigarettes have not been conclusively determined.

With the tobacco industry being hit by another huge increase of 30%, a year after a 12% increase in November, 2014, will smokers finally extinguish their cigarette for good?

Tell us what you think below!

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