Study reveals illegal trade to spike with smoke ban

Study reveals illegal trade to spike with smoke ban

KUALA LUMPUR, 23 April 2022 – A recent study revealed that Malaysians believe the illegal trade of cigarettes will increase exponentially if the Government moves ahead with its plans to ban the sale of cigarettes to those who are born after 2005. 

The study also found that two-thirds of smokers polled have admitted that they have smoked or are currently smoking an illegal brand of cigarettes, indicating that cheap contraband cigarettes are a gateway to smoking. 

These revelations came from a recent poll commissioned by DARE (Datametrics Research & Information Centre Sdn Bhd), a Malaysian based think-tank. It was carried out by Green Zebras, a leading market research company in Malaysia.  

Steve Murphy, the Managing Director & Co-founder of Green Zebras Sdn Bhd, says, the survey found that 83% of Malaysians think illegal cigarettes trade will increase exponentially with the ban on the sale of cigarettes to those who are born after 2005.

“Clearly, there is a strong belief that banning cigarettes sales to the next generation will only lead to a rise in the illegal cigarettes market and benefit criminal syndicates.”   

Illegal trade

In all, 94% of those polled believe that the low cost of illegal cigarettes (versus legal cigarettes) is a key driver for smokers to occasionally try or regularly smoke illegal brands. About 50% of Malaysians also said that the easy availability of illegal cigarettes is a critical factor in drawing people to have purchased and smoked illegal products.

The study also found that 90% of the Malaysian population believes that the illegal cigarettes trade is a problem for Malaysia and wants it stopped. Unfortunately, 6 in 10 of those polled do not have the confidence in the Government’s ability to reduce black market activities, including illegal cigarettes trade, over the next year. 

“Malaysians understand that the illegal cigarettes trade has a high socio-economic cost. Before coming up with new measures that could, in fact, worsen the present situation.

“Perhaps the Government should first focus on enforcing its current laws to eradicate illegal cigarettes, which is a big, ongoing issue in Malaysia,” Murphy concludes. His statement was based on the sentiments cited by Malaysians who participated in the survey.

Green Zebras’ poll was conducted online in March 2022 in both Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. It comprises a sample size of 1,000 Malaysian adults and is nationally representative of the overall population by location, gender, race and age.