Malaysia commended for tobacco controls

SUBANG JAYA: Malaysia is on the right track towards implementing stricter controls on the tobacco industry when the government excluded tobacco products from the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

International Tobacco Control Project (ITCP) director Dr Mary Assunta Kolandai said by doing so the government had sent a message that tobacco is different from other consumer products and should be exempted from free trade agreements.

"Excluding tobacco products from the TPP is a bold move; Malaysia is the first country in the world to consider tobacco a product that should not be traded freely," she said at the "Good Governance and Ethical Corporate Social Responsibility" seminar at Westminster International College in Subang Jaya today.

However, she added that although the government has banned advertising and publicity for tobacco companies, their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes have not been banned.

According to ITCP coordinator Dr Zarihah Zain, tobacco companies in the region, including Malaysia, are spending more on promotion via CSR initiatives in their respective countries where advertising and publicity have been banned.

She said the CSR programmes include those on education, scholarship, school building, and other types of community projects.

Zarihah also said the International Conference on CSR, Business and Human Rights had already declared that CSR programmes on tobacco should be banned.

She recommended that the government ban tobacco companies from taking part in CSR activities.