MALAYSIA: Says “No” to Tobacco and the US

MARLENA NIP WRITES – Malaysia is taking a stand against a smoking Uncle Sam. In ongoing trade talks with the U.S., it adamantly defended its right to set stiff rules on the sale of tobacco products within its own borders. In the process, it won the praise of everyone from the New York times to The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Malaysia’s stand comes amid a government push to cut the number of Malaysian smokers. Its refusal to back down led to an August stalemate at the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement trade meeting in Brunei, forcing the matter to be deferred to future meetings.

The perseverance halted the ability of the TPPA to take control of how countries regulate tobacco sales. If a visiting American bought a pack of smokes from a Kuala Lumpur drugstore, they’d be in for a gruesome surprise. Packs of cigarettes sold in Malaysia are labeled with pictures of black lungs and other smoking-related health disasters.

During the TPPA negotiations, various groups and organizations, including American organizations such as The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, stood behind Malaysian efforts to keep control over tobacco sales. Although America would like to parade itself as a nation that always looks out for the best interest of  people, its stance on the  issue of tobacco products in Malaysia is quite contradictory.

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