KUCHING 14/12/2012: The constant flow of contraband cigarettes from Kalimantan is making it more difficult to persuade smokers to quit.
Assistant Public Health Minister Dr Jerip Susil said that the government had set up stop-smoking clinics in major medical centres throughout the state, offering medical assistance to smokers to kick the habit through counselling, replacement therapy using nicotine pads and tablets in its efforts to curb smoking in the state.
However, this effort to cut down smoking is thwarted by cheap smuggled cigarettes sold openly in the streets.
Dr Jerip admitted that smuggled cheap Indonesian cigarettes had been flooding the state for some time.
His statement was confirmed by Customs director-general Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad who disclosed that the Customs Department seized contraband cigarettes worth RM1.3 million with unpaid government duty of RM12 million so far this year.
“If cigarettes are easily available, it would not be easy for the smokers to quit,” he told The Borneo Post recently.
Calling for concerted efforts to stem the flow of cigarettes across the border and their easy availability in the streets he said, “There must the laws and regulations to stop easy access to cigarettes especially the contraband ones, which can easily be smuggled in huge amount.”
All relevant agencies in the state should monitor the flow of contraband cigarettes, he added.
On whether contraband cigarettes were more harmful and damaging to health than those imported legally, Dr Jerip said he would not be able to comment due to the lack of chemical analysis.
“I would not be able to comment on that. So far we have not done any chemical analysis on the contraband cigarettes and we have not done any seizure of these contraband cigarettes (at business premises) as well,” said Dr Jerip.
He added that this should be carried as analysis of the content of contraband cigarettes should be done to determine their harmfulness.
“The health department should start getting samples from these contraband cigarettes to do a chemical analysis, so that we can be certain of their content,” said Dr Jerip.
by Lian Cheng