Many Shops May Soon Stop Selling Cigarettes
Smokers in Bandar Seri Begawan faced with the difficulty in buying tobacco products as a majority of retailers were left without cigarette stock, explaining that the reason is stricter public health policy.
Major retail outlets and convenience shops in town centre and in Gadong, Kiulap, Kiarong were examined by the Borneo Bulletin. According to the retailers, cigarettes sales will be discontinued starting following month because their “licences for cigarette sales will not be renewed”. Some retailers said that the sale of tobacco products is no longer profitable business because of the increase in the licensing cost and very minimal profit level.
One owner of a cigarette store said that they liquidate their existing supplies and will not fill them up again. Another retailer said ever since the licensing prices increased, they have only been selling cigarettes for the “convenience of their customers at their shop” and have no profit from the sales.
The fact that cigarette stores are located near schools can be a main reason for that licences for cigarette sale have not been given to some retailers and are not being renewed.
The Ministry of Health refused commenting this situation attributing to that the ministry will make an announcement soon to explain the matter to the public.
Since the enforcement of the ‘Tobacco Act 2005‘ in June 2008, amendments which involve the expansion of no-smoking areas in all public places were made this year. Since 2008, not only restaurants and cafes banned smoking totally in their premises, but also many other public places such as shopping areas, bus terminals were included in the act.
In this year, amendments to the act will consist in size increase of health warnings on cigarette packaging.
The Tobacco Act prohibits not only to sell, but also to supply any tobacco products to people below the age of 18. Smoking in public places would be punished by heavy fines.
In November 2010, amendments were made to the Customs Import Duties Order 2010 to increase tobacco taxes, afterwards multiplying its selling price. All retailers are also demanded to pay a yearly licence fee to save rights to sell tobacco products, which will be reviewed yearly.
The MoH is especially committed in its effort to stop the smoking habit among residents of Brunei. Except for strict enforcement and regular reviewing of the policy, the ministry is also encouraging smokers to give up smoking through the provision of Quit Smoking Clinics at strategic clinics nationwide.
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