• May 21, 2024

Illegal trade growing

 Illegal trade growing

Malaysia’s second finance minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said yesterday that the illegal cigarette trade was on the rise following the government’s raising of cigarette prices through higher excise duties, according to a story by Fernando Fong for the New Straits Times.

Johari said the duties, which have pushed cigarette prices up to RM17 per pack, were meant to discourage people from smoking.

However, smokers were now turning to contraband tobacco, which was mostly smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

Black market cigarettes were priced at between RM3 and RM5 per pack, which meant that even students could afford them.

Johari said that illicit cigarettes were more dangerous than were licit ones because their tar and nicotine contents were unknown, and he added that they might also contain other dangerous chemicals at higher-than-permitted levels.

He said the government was determined to reduce the supply of low-price, contraband tobacco and aimed to lower the smoking rate in the country.

“The Customs Department will introduce harsher penalties against those who sell illicit cigarettes, which could be tabled in the next parliamentary session,” he said.