A study by Nielson and the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers has shown that Malaysians are the largest consumers of contraband cigarettes, with over 12 billion sticks sold in 2018.
According to JT International Bhd (JTI) managing director Cormac O’Rourke, this crisis is happening in Malaysia due to the lack of effective and coordinated enforcement, encouraging cigarette smugglers to manipulate and take advantage of policy loopholes.
The study also found that the highest contraband cigarette activities occur in Sabah, Sarawak, Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu.
A rise in excise duty for cigarettes might also be the reason smokers opt for contraband cigarettes which offers a better bargain. The price hike of cigarette can be seen in the data by Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).
As a part of government’s efforts to stop cigarette smugglers from continuing their illegal activity and small retailers from selling them, an amount of RM100,000 will be fined if they are convicted.
In addition, Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib added that the black-market environment for cigarettes and tobacco products must be made hostile, intimidating and prohibitive by the authorities.
Every year, the number of smokers in Malaysia increases based on IDEAS’ statistics.
Quoting TheMalaysianReserve, the RM100,000 fine will make it difficult for smokers to buy illegal cigarettes from now on.