British American Tobacco (BAT) has launched a campaign to draw attention to the problem of illicit cigarette sales in Malaysia, reports The New Straits Times.
Worldwide, Malaysia is now the country most affected by illegal cigarettes, according to Oxford Economics. Nielsen figures suggest that black market accounted for 62 percent of all domestic tobacco sales in 2019.
Illicit cigarette sales cause the government to miss out on an estimated MYR5.3 billion ($1.24 billion) in excise tax revenues each year.
Many Malaysians also believe that youth smoking is linked to cheap illegal cigarettes.
BAT Malaysia managing director Jonathan Reed said the tobacco black market negatively impacts legal businesses and the lives of all Malaysians.
“We applaud the hard work done by law enforcement agencies recently and we hope that these efforts continue to pressure the syndicates operating in this black market,” he said in a statement on July 6.
“However, enforcement alone is not enough to address this issue.”
BAT hopes the surveys will spark a national discussion on how illicit cigarette sales can be stopped.