tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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A Malaysian Alcohol and Tobacco Board

The recent controversy over the sale of beer in Selangor underscores the need for a more sensitive and enlightened policy to handle issues that predominantly affect one community. Often they are handled crudely and ineffectively, resulting in increased inter-communal suspicion and hostility.

Another ready example is the issue of stray dogs. The real public health menace, apart from the aesthetic matter of dog poop all over the place, gets buried in the racial overtones of the ensuing discussions. Then there are pig farms. Yet these are readily solvable if only we are willing to learn from others and strive hard not to fall into the ready-set racial trap.

Consider the sale of alcohol; it touches at the heart of Muslim sensitivity. Yet there are real public health concerns regarding its unrestricted sale. In America, alcohol is the number one factor contributing to homicides, road accidents, and domestic violence. In my practice I see all too frequently the ravages alcohol inflicts on the human mind and body.

In America, the sale of alcohol to a minor is a felony; serving drinks to an intoxicated guest (at home or in the bar) exposes the host to civil liabilities for injuries caused by the drunkenness. Sobriety police roadside checks are a feature at weekends and holidays. A doctor arrested for drunk-driving risks losing his or her medical licence.

Alcohol is a dangerous and destructive drug; it should not be made readily available like chewing gum.

In Canada, the government has exclusive control over the sale and distribution of alcohol. You have to go to a government-owned store to buy wine or beer. Canada’s British Columbia (BC) province controls the sale of alcohol through its two agencies. Its Liquor Distribution Agency (LDA) has exclusive rights to import, purchase and distribute all manner of alcoholic beverages. LDA then sells them through its own BC liquor stores. Incidentally, LDA is one of the province’s top employers.

BC’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch issues licences to bars and other establishments that serve alcohol directly to customers to be consumed on the premises. It inspects the facilities for compliance with public health and other standards, conducts educational sessions for licensees on the responsible serving of alcohol, and runs background checks on its licensees.

Malaysia should have its own Alcohol and Tobacco Board (MATB) that would have exclusive rights to import, purchase, distribute, and sell all alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. It should also have exclusive powers to grant licences to bars and clubs in the manner of BC’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.

The system would work thus. MATB would buy the alcohol brewed by local manufacturers, from Carlsberg to the local Nathan Toddy Producer, and then sell the products directly in its stores as well as to retail customers like bars and toddy shops. Carlsberg and all the other producers would sell their products only to MATB; they are of course free to export. MATB would also have exclusive rights to import all alcohol products.

MATB would do the same with tobacco products. In setting up its outlet stores, MATB would have to follow strict guidelines as to proximity to mosques, schools and playgrounds.

Additionally, MATB would have the sole authority similar to BC’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to grant, monitor and revoke the licence to bars, clubs and other similar establishments.

Such a government entity would also reduce two major problems associated with both alcohol and tobacco: the importation and sales of contraband and fake products. With contraband there is the obvious loss of state revenue, and consequent corruption with its corrosive effects, with fake products there is the associated health hazards especially with adulterated alcohol products. About a third of the tobacco products sold in the country are either contraband or fake products. With alcohol, the figure is definitely much higher especially with the premium brands.

As MATB would be a monopoly, it should be extremely profitable. To discourage its directors and staff from drawing excessive salaries, MATB would be a GLC with a salary scheme comparable to the civil service.

I am assuming that we can create a government enterprise that is free of corruption and cronyism. I realise that is a great supposition. I am also very much aware that such an agency would attract the corrupt like maggots to rotten meat.

If MATB is wildly successful, the government would benefit directly both from the increased profits and taxes. If it behaves like a typical government entity such that buying beer would be as trying as getting your driver’s licence, then society too would benefit from the decreased sales and consumption. Thus society is completely “hedged;” it would gain either way.

The greatest benefit is that it would remove a highly charged racial issue and convert it into a profit-making scheme. That is reason enough to adopt my suggestion. — bakrimusa


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1 comment to A Malaysian Alcohol and Tobacco Board

  • Well at first I thought you were all for this goverment controled option then at the end you identified all the probelms you will create. Just think of the money it would generate for your country. So now look at how other counties use check and balances to keep government corruption down. First ay your administrator well and make the penalty for corruption so hi that they would feel it would not be worth it.

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