Malaysian Health Ministry to stub out illegal cigs

PETALING JAYA - The Health Ministry will be carrying out a series of integrated enforcement activities to clamp down on the sale or purchase of illicit cigarettes.

The ministry's disease control division director Dr Chong Chee Kheong said to circumvent the shortage of manpower in enforcing the amendment to the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004, they would work together with agencies such as the Customs Department, Domestic Trade, Co­ope­ratives and Consumerism Ministry and the Malaysian Mari­time En­­forcement Agency.

"The enforcement activities will be conducted thoroughly at the state and district level with the collaboration of these inter-agencies," said Dr Chong in an e-mail interview.

Effective Jan 1, Regulation 15(4A) states that no person shall sell or offer for sale, buy or has in his possession any packet or carton of cigarette that is not printed with the text required and health warning images as specified in this regulation.

"Regulation 15 is the requirement for the labelling and packaging for the packet or carton of cigarettes. Any packets or cartons of cigarettes which do not comply with this requirement are considered as illegal or contraband cigarettes," he said.

To date, the Health Ministry has conducted a briefing session with all personnel from the non-communicable disease section, inspectorate and legal officers to ensure that everyone is familiar with this requirement, he said.

He added that integrated and routine enforcement activities were part of the National Strategic Action Plan on Tobacco Control, which was developed by the ministry and would be carried out between 2014 to 2018.

Dr Chong said the police and local authorities would also assist in activities targeting illegal or contraband cigarettes, cigarettes sold below the retail selling price, and cigarettes without the pictorial health warning.