KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 15): The Malaysian retail industry is ill-informed about the tobacco generational endgame (GEG) and implores the government to consult with them prior to any implementation of the policy, according to local think tank Datametrics Research Information Sdn Bhd (DARE).
In a statement on Thursday (Sept 15), DARE said that the poll it conducted comprising a sample size of 150 respondents — from major retail chain operators, petrol marts and sundry shops — from the Malaysian retail industry revealed that retailers had not been briefed nor consulted on the GEG and its implementation process and procedures.
"87% raised concerns that the government had yet to explain the details of the GEG to them or their management, with an overwhelming majority (89%) saying that they should be consulted prior to any implementation of the policy," it said.
It added that most retailers were cognisant of the details of the GEG, the steps the industry needed to ensure implementation, as well as the burden their businesses would have to bear as a consequence.
"Most were aware of the details of the GEG (87%) and understood the steps they would have to take to ensure implementation was carried out (73%).
"A majority (81%) realised that the responsibility to enforce the GEG would fall on them, with 79% aware that they would need to check the IDs of their customers. Given this backdrop, 86% said that the policy would add complexity to their business," it said.
Meanwhile, DARE also forwarded that its study showed that retailers had little hope for the GEG to be effective in stopping people from smoking.
"Our study also showed that instead of quitting, retailers believed that smokers within the GEG bracket would either resort to illegal cigarettes (89%), getting someone "legitimate" to purchase cigarettes for them (70%), or, more worryingly, turning to other dangerous substances such as drugs (34%).
"This clearly shows that the GEG's intent and purpose will indeed be lost and defeated as it does more harm than good to society and industry. With this understanding, 62% [of] respondents shared that the GEG should be delayed," DARE managing director Pankaj Kumar said.
Kumar added that the think tank hopes that the Parliament Special Select Committee (PSSC) members take the necessary proactive steps to listen and engage with the various stakeholders that will be impacted by the GEG.
"Only then, should the PSSC and the government take a proactive and informed decision on the right way forward, as a rushed policy will have dire consequences for Malaysia in the future," he added.