It’s an open secret that Malaysians love buying illegal cigarettes, and it clearly shows as Malaysia has become the largest consumer of illegal cigarettes in the world.
According to The Star, over 12 billion sticks were sold last year based on a study by research house Nielson and the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers.
“The situation can only be addressed by a more sustained level of strategic enforcement to curb the supply and demand for these illegal cigarettes,” said Japan Tobacco International Bhd (JTI) managing director Cormac O’Rourke, quoting the study.
Contraband cigarettes accounted for 58.9% of all sales last year, according to JTI Malaysia’s 2018 Illicit Cigarette Study (ICS). In the study, the contraband rate was highest in Malaysia, followed by Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
Malaysia’s rate amounted to nearly three million sticks and was a 3.3% increase from 2017, it said extrapolating from official smoking data. Smuggled cigarettes were most prevalent in Sabah, Sarawak, Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu, where up to four of every five sticks sold were illegal.
Cormac also stated that Malaysia was one of the few countries in the world where illegal cigarette sales continued to thrive unabated.
“Also please remember that illegal cigarette sales are not a victimless crime, it’s funding criminal gangs and this is very much the case here,” he added.
Cormac then proposed three measures to comprehensively address the sale of illicit cigarettes, including a ban on cigarette trans-shipments in Malaysia and for a single point of entry for any importation of cigarettes into the country to minimise the risk of manipulation.
Not to mention, he introduced an excise moratorium for the next three years to avoid price shocks leading to more smokers switching to illegal cigarettes.
Cause like it or not, that’s what smokers out there are doing. When they can’t afford their addiction, they will find ways to get cheaper alternatives. Buying a pack of rokok murah cost as low as RM4, as compared to normal cigarettes which start from RM11.90 a pack.
This news reminds us about local underground rappers Confucius and Young Omar singing about their fave rokok murah called, ‘U2’. Listen to them complain about cigarette prices down below:
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