Contraband cigarettes confiscated by the Customs deparment during a sting operations recently.

KUALA LUMPUR: The sales of cigarettes sold by small retailers have dropped to about 50 per cent since the introduction of the 20-stick cigarette packs.

Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors General Association (MSCSPGA) chairman, Ho Su Mong said the availability of only the 20-stick cigarette packs since 2010 has resulted in retailers losing out their sales to the illicit cigarette market.

"We are selling cigarettes legally but it is getting harder for retailers to sell cigarettes now.

"The illegal cigarette issue is so big, enforcement alone is not enough. We have 5 million smokers here and 57 per cent of them opt for illegal cigarettes that are mostly sold under RM5."

Ho added that there was no point of having policies that benefited the illegal cigarettes trade and enforcement was not the only way to address the problem.

"We want to propose to the government to reintroduce the smaller cigarette packs, to help contain the sales of these illegal cigarettes," he told reporters at a press conference here today.

The press conference was also attended by Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas), Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Association (Presma), and Malaysia Sundry Goods Merchants Federation Association.

The four major national associations represented 40,000 retailers who supported the introduction of the 10-stick cigarette packs aimed at combatting illegal cigarette trade and reducing total consumption of cigarettes in Malaysia.

The four representatives of the associations had signed a memorandum asking for the government to introduce the sale of the 10-stick cigarettes packs. The letter would be sent to the Prime Minister's Office letter today.

Ho said the reintroduction of the 10-stick cigarette-packs would be able to bring down the illegal tobacco trade by 10 to 15 per cent.

"It will also provide smokers an opportunity to moderate their smoking habit and reduce the amount of cigarettes smoked per day.

"Smaller packs also give smokers of illegal cigarettes a choice of buying cigarettes legally as it would be cheaper and less harmful."

Primas president Muthusamy Thirumeni said the ban on small packs did not address the issue of youth smoking as the number of smokers had been increasing ever since the 'kiddie pack' was banned.

"Illegal cigarettes are the real 'kiddie pack' because it is so cheap. The government is also losing revenue from the sales of these contrabands."

"We should give this proposal a try for a few years and the government can review this proposal again in years to come."

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