KUALA LUMPUR: Philip Morris (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (PMM), is mulling legal options following an an apparent decision by the government to reverse a previous Cabinet directive to ban packs of cigarettes of less than 20 sticks, which was to be effective June 1.
PMM, the largest exporter of tobacco products in Malaysia, expressed its surprise and disappointment over the reversal in the decision.
"In the absence of clarity surrounding this decision, PMM will have no choice but to evaluate all possible avenues, including legal recourse, to recover any losses the company may suffer," it said on Thursday, May 27.
To recap, The Edge Financial Daily reported on Thursday that the government had deferred the ban on the 14-stick pakcs, which was supposed to come into effect on June 1.
The Edge FD reported the decision was made during the Cabinet meeting. However, it is not known if a new deadline has been set.
PMM said manufacturers were given almost six years to prepare for the change, and PMM was seeking urgent clarification on the reasons for this last-minute policy reversal.
"This precipitous decision, coming less than one week before the previously announced deadline, will cause damage to PMM’s business and competitive position, and it conflicts with the Ministry of Health's (MoH) stated public health objectives.
"In the absence of clarity surrounding this decision, PMM will have no choice but to evaluate all possible avenues, including legal recourse, to recover any losses the company may suffer," it said.
PMM said it relied on numerous statements by the MoH, as well as official letters confirming the decision to ban small packs, in planning the depletion of inventory.
The company added it had made the required changes to ensure compliance with the law based on these statements and confirmatory letters.