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A mire of highly subjective and ineffective voluntary guidelines: tobacco industry efforts to thwart tobacco control in Malaysia
  1. M Assunta,
  2. S Chapman
  1. School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Mary Assunta
 School of Public Health, Room 129A, Edward Ford Building (A27), University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia;


Objective: To describe tobacco industry efforts in Malaysia to thwart government efforts to regulate tobacco promotion and health warnings.

Methods: Systematic keyword and opportunistic website searches of formerly private tobacco industry internal documents made available through the Master Settlement Agreement and secondary websites; relevant information from news articles and financial reports.

Results: Commencing in the 1970s, the industry began to systematically thwart government tobacco control. Guidelines were successfully promoted in the place of legislation for over two decades. Even when the government succeeded in implementing regulations such as health warnings and advertising bans they were compromised and acted effectively to retard further progress for years to come.

Conclusion: Counter-measures to delay or thwart government efforts to regulate tobacco were initiated by the industry. Though not unique to Malaysia, the main difference lies in the degree to which strategies were used to successfully counter stringent tobacco control measures between 1970 and 1995.

  • BAT, British American Tobacco
  • B&W, Brown & Williamson, CMTM, Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers
  • MTC, Malaysian Tobacco Company
  • RJR, RJ Reynolds
  • TMD, Trademark Diversification
  • Malaysia
  • tobacco industry

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  • * Japan Tobacco Inc acquired the international tobacco business from RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp in 1999.

  • UMNO: United Malay National Organisation is the main Malay party in the ruling coalition government, which comprises of 13 political parties, formed mainly along ethnic lines.

  • Funding source: National Health & Medical Research Council (Australia) #153857, National Institutes of Health (USA) #1 R01 CA87110-01A1

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