Govt to table new law to combat contraband cigarettes

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will table a new law to charge those caught selling contraband cigarettes.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said the government has and is incurring heavy losses in cigarette excise duty collection due to demand for contraband cigarettes.

"The influx of contraband cigarettes has almost reached 50% of the cigarette approved by the government," he said, adding that the government increased the excise duty to discourage people from smoking and to save the medical cost for treatment of illnesses related to it.

Johari who attended the closing ceremony of the Healthy Communities Without Smoke At Kampung Pandan settlement here. said there is a drop in legal cigarettes and an increase in contraband ones.

The new law, he added, which is to be drafted by the Customs Department will be tabled in the next Parliament session.

When the new Act comes into force, he said, even those caught with one box of contraband cigarettes will face a fine or jail sentence.

Furthermore, he added, contraband cigarettes which are mostly imported from regionally countries and produced locally can also be picked up by underage children who will eventually develop the smoking habit.

He said people including schoolchildren can purchase contraband cigarettes at between RM3 to RM5 and they not only harm their own health but also that of secondary smokers.

At present, the Customs Act 1967 could only pin a person for possessing contraband cigarettes under Section 135(1)(d) which carries a maximum three year jail or a fine up to 20 times the value of the goods, or both.