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She runs a kiosk that sells soft drinks, packaged snacks and other food items apart from tobacco products in Maligawatta, a Colombo suburb. Ceylon Tobacco is looking to contain the impact from higher levies. It has shut some of its leaf depots and reduced factory shifts to curb costs. To sustain profitability it’s working on “smart cost management, streamlining processes, identifying consumer segments and addressing their needs,” said Ridley. The company is also widening its portfolio. It started selling its popular Gold Leaf brand in a smaller packet of 12 sticks apart from the 20-stick packet, introduced a new product Gold Leaf Red and is unveiling John Player Navy Cut, which will be sold for 40 rupees a stick. Still, those efforts may not completely offset the impact from the higher levies. Both revenue and net income will grow at a slower pace this year, according to Chayanika Ranasinghe, an analyst at CT CLSA Securities Ltd., in Colombo. The steep decline in sales volume seen after the November action is expected to “moderate, particularly if there are no further drastic tax increments or regulations,” she said. Ceylon Tobacco have climbed 24 percent this year, compared with the 4.3 percent gain in the nation’s benchmark Colombo All-Share Index. Measures being taken by Sri Lanka are in line with those by governments across the world to curb smoking.
Countries like Singapore and Sri Lanka have made progress to raise the age requirement to 21 while Malaysia is still debating on its 2018 tobacco bill . Although the government has designated non-smoking zones , there seemed to be negligible enforcement and issuance of fines. Is Malaysia’s government just too incompetent? The government may have been aware of the possible consequences in hasty cigarette tax hikes. It decided tax hikes were necessary to meet its budget deficit target. “As per the trends of past years, there is usually a surplus to offset the deficit from the first half, in turn keeping the deficit within the target,” said Lee Heng Guie, executive director of Socio-Economic Research Centre. Malaysia achieved its budget deficit target of around 3% despite billion-dollar losses in oil revenue. Together with cost-cutting measures, sin tax made up for any shortfalls in revenue. The cigarette industry holds the second place in terms of total excise collection, which contributes significantly to indirect tax ( 22.9% of the 2017 Federal Governmental budget).