The cheapest cigarettes in the market will cost RM6.40 per pack of 20s by Jan 1, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said this was under the Tobacco Products Control Regulations gazetted by the ministry that will also see price promotions for cigarettes being prohibited.
Liow said the new regulations would set the minimum retail price for a stick of cigarettes at 32sen.
Currently, a pack of 20s costs RM9.30 but cheaper cigarettes that cost as low as RM4.80 per pack are available in the market.
He said the regulation prohibiting price promotions was aimed at putting a stop to promotional activities through discount offers for cigarettes.
“The two regulations are vital in making cigarettes less affordable to children, youths and those from the lower income group,” he said in a press statement issued Sunday.
Liow said the move was in line with the government’s commitment to protect children and teenagers from taking up the smoking habit and exposing themselves to chronic diseases or taking drugs.
Even the World Bank, he said, agreed that taxes on tobacco products and price controls were the best ways to reduce the number of smokers while Malaysia’s own studies had shown that a 10% increase in price reduced the number of smokers by 3.8%.
Liow said the regulations would require cigarette companies to declare to the ministry the retail price of their cigarettes before Jan 15 next year.
Those introducing new tobacco products will have 14 days before their products hit the market to make the declaration, he added.
“A notice listing the minimum price of cigarettes will also have to be clearly displayed at the counter or place where the cigarettes are sold but the notice cannot contain logos, brands, trademarks or descriptions related to the cigarettes,” he said.
Under the regulations, producers or importers can adjust the retail prices of their cigarettes as long as they follow the minimum price regulation and notify the ministry 14 days before the adjustments took effect.
Adjustments, however, will be limited to only three times a year and the period between adjustments must not be less than 30 days while the adjustments must be less than 5% of the earlier retail price.
Cigarette labels will not be allowed to carry the words discount, special price, special offer, promotion, limited edition or any other words that indicate the offer of a discount or prices cheaper than those listed on the cigarette packs or labels.