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KUALA LUMPUR: British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd (BAT) is encouraged by the Federal Internal Security and Public Order Department’s efforts against smuggling of illicit cigarettes.

Managing director Erik Stoel said BAT Malaysia remains hopeful that the police continue to apply pressure and deal a swift and crippling blow to criminals who fund a culture of organised corruption in the country.

This was in reference with the identification of four syndicates whose main contraband consists of smuggled cigarettes.

“We have constantly appealed for serious action to be taken. This issue can no longer be ignored and it requires a cross government action plan to effectively tackle this problem,” Stoel said in a statement today.

He added that all key ministries and agencies have a role to play and lend their expertise and jointly support the ongoing efforts of law enforcement agencies.

This includes the Ministry of Health’s Tobacco Control Sector, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Bank Negara Malaysia, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Financial Crime Centre.

“As the legal industry leader, we are very willing to provide our full support to the government effort to curtail this menace – our extensive international experience tells us that a joint collaboration between the private and public sector can work,” he said.

The statement comes on the back of the findings of a recently published report by leading research and analyst firm Oxford Economics on the broader impact of the illicit tobacco trade in Malaysia.

The report highlighted that since this black economy gained a foothold, the country’s gross domectic product, economy, public health agenda, reputation and legal employment opportunities had been undermined.

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