Illegal Cigarettes Trade Undermining MOH’s Generation End Game

TRADA urge the Ministry of Health to be steadfast in its attempt to curtail smoking prevalence in Malaysia by tackling the illegal cigarettes trade first and then putting in place new laws and regulations that will be in line with the national health agenda.

Illegal Cigarettes Trade Undermining MOH’s Generation End Game

MIRI, 8 July 2022 – The initiative by the Ministry of Health to introduce new laws to curtail smoking, especially amongst the youth and future generations, may be undermined by the severity of the illegal cigarettes trade, said Pertubuhan Transformasi Dayak or Dayak Transformation Association (TRADA)

Joseph Anak Janting, President and Founder of TRADA, says, “We applaud the bold and innovative efforts by the Minister of Health, YB Khairy Jamaluddin, to stop youth and future generations of Malaysians from purchasing cigarettes.”

“Nevertheless, we believe that this courageous move will be undermined by the high prevalence and easy availability of illegal cigarettes in Malaysia today, especially in poorer communities,” he added.

According to Joseph, 6 out of 10 cigarettes sold in Malaysia today are illegal cigarettes that are manufactured overseas or locally. “In my home state of Sarawak, the problem is even worse. Illegal cigarettes today command more than 80% of the market.

Wherever you go, you can see people selling and smoking contraband brands. It is a serious problem. I urge the health minister and its ministry officers in Putrajaya to visit Sarawak and have a better sense of the dire illicit cigarette situation here and to see the complexity of implementing the new law over here,” he explained.

End Game

“People who sell these illegal cigarettes do not have to comply with any laws or regulations. In fact, if MOH’s Generation End Game were to be put in place, we believe there would be a boom for illegal cigarettes as people who are banned from buying legal products will source their cigarettes from these unscrupulous vendors who are aplenty around Malaysia,” he adds.

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TRADA urge the Ministry of Health to be steadfast in its attempt to curtail smoking prevalence in Malaysia by tackling the illegal cigarettes trade first and then putting in place new laws and regulations that will be in line with the national health agenda.

“The most significant factor driving illegal cigarettes business is the price difference between legal and contraband products. In Sarawak, the most popular contraband brands, namely Era and Premium, are only RM5 compared to RM12, the cheapest legal product. People with lower income have no choice but to buying these cheap illegal cigarettes, which are widely available.

The Malaysian Government must seriously look into excise and tax reforms, enforcing the law on perpetrators of illegal cigarettes trade and end the corruption that fuels this unlawful trade so that MOH can implement its initiatives effectively,” he concluded.

In the upcoming Parliament Session starting on 18 July 2022, the Ministry of Health is planning to table a set of regulations to curtail smoking and vaping, including banning the sale of cigarettes and vape products to those born after 2005 (Generation End Game), restricting publicly displaying cigarette products for sale and implementing plain packaging on cigarettes.