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Published: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 2:28:30 PM

Buyers of illegal smokes face fine and jail

A man buying a pack of cigarettes from a sundry shop in Jalan Kulim, Bukit Mertajam.

A man buying a pack of cigarettes from a sundry shop in Jalan Kulim, Bukit Mertajam.

EXCLUSIVE:

PETALING JAYA: You can be fined and even jailed for buying illicit cigarettes under new rules which took effect on Wednesday.

Amendments to the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 under the Food Act 1983 stipulate that it is not only illegal to sell cigarettes in packets that do not carry government health warnings and pictures, it is also illegal to buy them.

Under the amendments gazetted last June, the buyer, just like the seller, may face a maximum fine of RM10,000, jail of up to two years, or both.

The new provisions are understood to be aimed at checking smuggling of illegal cigarettes into the country.

Regulation 15(4A) of the Act reads: “No person shall sell or offer for sale, buy or have in his possession any packet or carton of cigarettes that is not printed with the texts set and health warning images.”

Cigarette packets without the warnings are most likely to have been smuggled in as manufacturers in Malaysia have been complying with the printing requirements for several years now.

Customs director-general Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad said that his department would work closely with the Health Ministry to enforce the new regulations.

He said that only the ministry could act against the consumers of illicit cigarettes.

“We will assist the ministry in any way we can and also improve our intelligence gathering to identify outlets (apart from shops) selling illicit cigarettes,” he said.

He added that the department would step up operations at the country’s major entry points to prevent the smuggling.

Khazali said the department had seized more than 1.6 billion sticks of cigarettes worth more than RM134mil since 2011.

“The seizures are worth RM811mil in unpaid duty.

“We are making headway in the war against cigarette smuggling,” he said.

In 2011, the department seized RM61.9mil worth of cigarettes, and the amount had gradually decreased to RM42mil in 2012 and RM31mil last year.

“We need the cooperation of the consumers to reduce the demand for contraband cigarettes,” he said.

In September, British American Tobacco claimed that Malaysia had one of the highest levels of illegal cigarette consumption in the world, saying that smugglers raked in about RM1bil per annum while the Government incurred losses of up to RM2bil in excise duty.

Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Mi­­nister Datuk Noriah Kasnon was quoted as saying that the tobacco industry contributed RM3.52bil to the country’s tax income in 2012, compared to RM3.42bil in 2011.

 

Related stories:

Malaysians smoked eight billion contraband cigarettes in 2012

Many groups question if rules can be enforced

Tags / Keywords: Courts & Crime, cigarette, illicit

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