Study: Nearly two in three cigarettes sold in Malaysia are now smuggled

John Bunyan
JTI Malaysia managing director Cormac O’Rourke said rise was deeply worrisome for Malaysia. — Picture by Choo Choy May

IPOH, Nov 5 — The sale of illegal cigarettes rose nationwide, according to the Illicit Cigarettes Study (ICS) released by the Japan Tobacco International Berhad (JTI Malaysia) today.

The study was commissioned by the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers (CMTM).

It was conducted between June and August 2019.

It showed estimated illegal cigarette sales went from 59.7 per cent during the March-May study to 64.6 per cent in the latest.

JTI Malaysia managing director Cormac O’Rourke said rise was deeply worrisome for Malaysia.

“To think that any legitimate industry can be corroded to this extent to the benefit of criminal gangs casts Malaysia in a poor light on the international stage,” he said in a statement.

The study found sales to have spiked in all states except Kedah and Perlis, with Kuala Lumpur rising by 9.4 per cent.

The ICS is done three times a year and is based on discarded cigarette boxes collected nationwide.

O’Rourke acknowledged attempts to dispute the ICS data but asserted that not credible alternative has been published.

“This is a national crisis that needs to be addressed holistically by all the relevant institutions of the state,” he said.

He said increasing regulation on legitimate tobacco firms would only worsen the issue.

He then repeated the industry’s calls for a ban on cigarette transshipment and a moratorium on duty and excise increases.

Related Articles Illegal smokes, vape could cost Treasury RM6b annually, says tobacco maker Report: 1,000 packs of illegal cigarettes sold each minute in Malaysia Tobacco manufacturer says nearly two in three cigarettes here smuggled