From: The Star Online (Malaysia)
MALACCA: The Health Ministry will work with the Customs Department to wage an all-out war on the sale of illicit cigarettes in the country.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the government was concerned over the wide distribution of counterfeit cigarette that could lead to health complications.
Over 38% of Malaysians are now opting for illicit cigarette due to its low pricing without considering the harm smoking can cause, he said here yesterday.
“We need to address the sale of counterfeit cigarette as it is an emerging scourge in the country. Apart from evading taxes, the distribution of such contraband could pose a serious health risk to smokers, he said.
Liow said fake cigarretes contained high levels of tar and nicotine.
“We will intensify our crackdown of such illicit cigarettes by also roping in relevant enforcement agencies,” he added.
Earlier reports noted that Malaysian smoke a staggering nine billion sticks of illicit cigarettes each year, which means that almost four out of 10 cigarettes smoked here are illegal.
Trading of illicit cigarettes is also costing the Government up to RM2 billion in lost revenue in the from of taxes.
Meanwhile, Penang has appealed to the Health Ministry to approve smoke-free zones that were proposed by the state government in April last year.
If the proposed areas are not gazetted, the plan to make certain areas in Penang smoke-free will never come to fruition, Penang Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said.
“We proposed the plan last year in April, but the green light has not come from the Federal Government.
“Malacca already has its own smoke-free districts, so I hope our turn will be next,” he told a press conference here yesterday.