TOBACCO: Remove it from TPPA

NST, December 15, 2013

It is universally accepted that tobacco is hazardous to health. It is a major contributor to deaths, with 11,000 dying a year in Malaysia, in addition to maiming hundreds of thousands more.

The Malaysian Medical Association had earlier this year written to various parties to appeal for the carving out of tobacco from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

We were happy to receive letters from the International Trade and Industry Ministry and Health Ministry thanking MMA for the interest shown. Both were in agreement with MMA's views, which we were informed was also the view of the government.

MMA was urged to lobby its counterparts in other countries to do the same. Having made a strong stand, Malaysia must now not bow to tactics employed by the United States and resort to softer language on the carving out of tobacco from TPPA.

The prime minister, in the recent Budget, removed sugar subsidies for the sake of the health of Malaysians.

It is hoped that this stance on health will also see Malaysia firmly opposing any concessions and demanding a complete carve-out of tobacco from the agreement.