The reason why illegal cigarettes are so popular is because they’re dirt cheap.
Malaysia is losing the fight against the illegal cigarette trade.
Meanwhile, based on recent reports, more than half of the seizures conducted by various law enforcement agencies across the country involved contraband cigarettes worth millions of Ringgit.
Not only is this problem costing the nation up to RM5 billion in lost yearly tax revenue. But illegal cigarettes are also harmful to public health as they contain higher levels of tar, nicotine and other unknown substances.
Moreover, the illegal cigarette trade is also fueling criminal activities in the country, like smuggling.
The reason why illegal cigarettes are so popular is because they’re dirt cheap compared to legal cigarettes that are subject to high taxes and duties.
This creates demand for it and makes ‘em widely available in black markets nationwide.
Despite the government’s aspiration of making Malaysia a smoke-free country by way of banning cigarettes for the next generation under the Generation End Game (GEG) policy, some believe that due to the spread of the illegal cigarette trade, this vision is far from feasible.
Former Penang State Executive Council (EXCO) and current Selangor State Assemblymember (ADUN) Dr Afif Bahardin expressed doubts that the GEG would succeed under current circumstances.
The former Penang Health EXCO explained the GEG would fail because of the lack of resources and human capital to counter the country’s illegal cigarette problem and noted that the nation must focus on getting the community involved to enforce change.
We must learn from history that prohibition policies will only benefit illegal trade, enrich criminals and spread corruption in our public institutions.Former Penang State Executive Council (EXCO) and current Selangor State Assemblymember (ADUN) Dr Afif Bahardin via Berita Harian
Similar sentiments were made by business advocacy group, Advokasi Perusahaan dan Industri (API) Managing Director Datuk Fazli Nordin, who said that in order to become a smoke-free country, the government must first put an end to the illegal cigarette trade.
He explained that although the efforts made by our law enforcement agencies to mitigate the illegal cigarette problem are to be lauded, they’re not enough to address the root cause of the issue.
Since the problem remains systemic and entrenched, their efforts are like trying to move a mountain with a spoon.API Managing Director Datuk Fazli Nordinvia Berita Harian
He urged the Madani Government to take decisive action and implement strategies to deal with the demand for cheap contraband cigarettes.
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