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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Malaysia bans tobacco ads
cigarette
More Malaysians are smoking
Malaysia is to ban all tobacco advertising from next year, the Ministry of Health has announced.

However, sports such as Formula One - which rely heavily on sponsorship from cigarette companies - have been granted a temporary exemption.

Michael Schumacher (left) and Rubens Barrichello after the 2000 Malaysian Grand Prix
Some sports have won a temporary exemption
"The Cabinet meeting held last week decided to ban all forms of promotions on cigarette brand names in Malaysia effective from 1 January next year," Health Minister Chua Jui Meng told the official Bernama news agency on Tuesday.

But "further discussions" were necessary to discuss implications on soccer and the Malaysian leg of the Formula One car racing competition, he added.

Loopholes

Many tobacco companies - hit in the developed world by lawsuits and a maturing market - have looked for profits in developing countries where advertising rules are generally laxer.

Currently, direct tobacco advertising is banned in Malaysia under nine-year-old regulations, but tobacco companies have exploited loopholes in the law to advertise indirectly and sponsor sport.

The revised law will be more specific, Mr Chua said.

Three tobacco companies, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco Industry and Philip Morris, have agreed to withdraw all forms of cigarette-related advertisements from the end of this year, the health minister said.

He linked the rise in smokers to increased spending on advertising, and said that the Ministry of Health could never compete with their spend - an estimated $12.4m between January and May this year.

Nearly 25% of Malaysians were smokers in 1996, compared with 21.5% in 1986.

See also:

07 Jun 02 | Business
08 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
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