Malaysia: World leader in consumption of illegal cigarettes – hitting new record high

Cigarettes production line in a tobacco factory

The country is ranking at 108 of 182 in total globally when its on cigarette consumption per capita. But it is world champion when its on illegal sources of origin.

In last year’s study, Nielsen research has shown that Malaysian people are smoking the most illegal cigarettes in the world. About 12 billion cigarette sticks have been sold. The proportion of illegal cigarettes of the entire market is about 59 percent.

Today, Adib Povera show in “New Straits Times” is easily going to be surpassed this year. “It showed that 64.6 per cent or 3.1 billion sticks of cigarettes consumed from June to August this year had been smuggled into the country. The Illicit Cigarettes Study (ICS) showed an uptrend in the consumption of contraband cigarettes in the past four years.”

The country is fighting tobacco – but against smoking in general, not focusing on illegal activities of smugglers and organised crime groups. This year, a law on the protection of non-smokers was passed which, among other things, provides for a minimum distance of three metres from open-air eateries.

But the fight against smoking is one thing, the fight against organised crime is completely different. The actions on illicit trade aren’t prioritised as critics in Malaysia say. Officials are suspected of not only turning a blind eye on the issue, but filling their own pockets from illegal trade.