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Study: Malaysia tops the world in illegal cigs

08 Apr 2019. Malaysia has the highest penetration of illicit cigarettes in the world, according to a study commissioned by the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers, Free Malaysia Today reported.

Illegal cigarettes accounted for almost 60 per cent, or 12 billion sticks, of the domestic tobacco market in 2018, an increase of 3.3 per cent from 2017, the report said. For the study, a total of 153,000 cigarette packs were collected from the street and rubbish bins across the country throughout the year. These were analysed for local tax stamps and authentic packaging. According to the report, 91 per cent of the illegal cigarette packs did not have tax stamps while the remaining share bore fake tax stamps.

“Malaysia is, regrettably, one of the few countries in the world where illegal cigarette sales continue to thrive unabated with the situation now surpassing crisis levels,” Cormac O’Rourke, the managing director of tobacco company JT International Bhd (JTI Malaysia), was quoted as saying. O’Rourke said the situation caused the Government to lose up to MYR 5 billion (EUR 1,08 billion ) in uncollected tax revenue, with these losses appearing set to continue.