August 26, 2008 - Currently, one in every four cigarettes bought in Malaysia is illegal. Legal cigarette volumes would continue to be depressed based on the latest preliminary results of the Contraband and Unauthorised Cigarettes survey by the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers (CMTM). The survey revealed that very cheap illegal cigarettes, already the second largest player in the tobacco industry, has continued to gain ground in the country from 23.8% to 24.9% for the period, February to April 2008.
British American Tobacco (BAT) Malaysia and Philip Morris Malaysia have seen sharp decreases in sales which means less tax revenue for the government. Jack Bowles, the BAT managing director: "We hope that with increased enforcement, stricter penalties and a moderate and gradual tax increase, the illegal cigarette menace can be addressed."
Illicit tobacco trade a global problem. In 2006 approximately 5,767 billion cigarettes were sold globally in 2006. It is estimated that the global illicit cigarette trade was 10.7% of total sales, or 600 billion cigarettes, in 2006. Illicit tobacco trade could represent a loss to government revenue of $US 40 to 50 billion annually. (How big was the global illicit tobacco trade problem in 2006?)
Reference: Tobacco firms call for greater enforcement by B.K. SIDHU, the Star Online, 8/23/2008 and Tobacco in MalaysiaEuromonitor, 2/2008.
In 2007 the smoking population in Malaysia (total population 27.5 million - 2008)continued to increase (estimated six million about 8% women) mainly due to the young.
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) - the global anti-tobacco treaty.