Cigarettes, cigar trade reps oppose proposed smoking control bill

The proposed ban on displaying tobacco products will only further threaten the survival of tobacco product retailers here, they tell the Legislative Assembly

The proposed amendment of the city’s tobacco control law suggests a ban on displaying tobacco products in shops, a move that will further threaten the business of cigarettes and cigar sales. The government increased tobacco tax threefold in July, trade representatives reminded the Legislative Assembly.
“Cigars, [like] other tobacco products, ought to be displayed and presented to clients. The tasting room as we call it is a very important facility for the sales process. So this aspect is really key for the operators to continue their business,” Kenith Wong, regional director of the Pacific Cigar Company Ltd., told media after meeting the second permanent committee of the Legislative Assembly yesterday.
The committee, which is currently deliberating upon the amendment of the tobacco control regime (law No.5/2011), has met Macau’s Trade Chamber of Tobacco Companies and several cigar company representatives for discussion on the bill. Following deliberation by the committee, the bill will undergo a second reading by the general assembly.
The proposed legal amendment spells out that tobacco products and price tags cannot be showcased in the display windows of sales points, including both shops and stands.
With this legal amendment, the government also proposes a ban on the setting up of tasting rooms for cigars at sales points. The suggested removal of the tasting rooms is going to harm the promotion of new products, the second permanent committee’s president, Chan Chak Mo, told media citing the trade representatives.
The proposed legal changes have incited strong opposition from tobacco and cigar trading companies.
Andrew Chan Hou Lam, deputy director of Macau’s Trade Chamber of Tobacco Companies, remarked that the proposed ban against the display of smoking products was also unfavourable for consumers to understand the information of tobacco products. The tax on each cigarette was increased 200 per cent to MOP1.50 from the previous MOP0.5. With the tax hike, the tobacco tax occupies around 70 per cent of the retail price of a packet of 20 cigarettes from the previous 33 per cent.
A ban would only further threaten the survival of the tobacco trade, as tobacco retailers have already suffered a 70 per cent fall in sales turnover since the tobacco tax hike came into effect on July 14.
Citing peers’ sales performance, Mr. Kenith Wong also told media that cigar retailers suffered a 20 to 30 per cent drop in turnover after the tobacco tax was increased.