Malaysia’s Tobacco Display Ban Impact

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    In a significant move, Malaysia has proposed a legislative change aimed at reducing the visibility of tobacco products in retail environments. This proposal, put forward by the Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Associations of Malaysia (FSGMAM), addresses growing concerns among local grocery store owners about potential financial and operational impacts.

    Background of the Proposal

    Bill Overview

    The “2024 Public Health Tobacco Control Products Act (Bill 852)” is designed to curb smoking and vaping rates by reducing public exposure to tobacco and e-cigarette products through a display ban.

    Purpose of the Ban

    The ban would require all tobacco products to be stored out of direct view and in plain packaging to make them less appealing, particularly to the youth.

    Impact on Retailers

    Operational Challenges

    FSGMAM Chairman Hong Chee Meng emphasized the heavy adjustments needed in store layouts and the additional investments in storage required to comply with the new rules, potentially increasing operational costs.

    Sales Complications

    Retailers are concerned about difficulties in selling non-displayed products. Uniform packaging and lack of brand visibility could hinder customer service and complicate transactions.

    Government Strategy Critique

    Ignoring Illegal Markets

    Hong criticizes the government’s focus on legal market restrictions while overlooking the illicit tobacco market, which he argues is a significant factor in Malaysia’s high smoking rates.

    Communication Gaps

    The lack of engagement from the Ministry of Health and the absence of responses to the association’s requests for dialogue have left retailers feeling overlooked and undervalued in the legislative process.

    Calls for Action

    Demand for Consultation

    FSGMAM is calling for extensive consultations with stakeholders to ensure regulations are balanced and do not unfairly impact small businesses.

    Evaluation of Impact

    The association seeks a comprehensive evaluation of the economic effects of the display ban on grocery stores and the broader retail sector to inform more effective policy decisions.


    As Malaysia considers implementing Bill 852 to ban the display of tobacco products, the concerns of grocery store operators highlight the need for a balanced approach that considers the economic impact on small businesses alongside public health goals. Effective stakeholder engagement and consideration of all market aspects, including the illicit tobacco trade, are essential for crafting fair and practical regulations.