Thursday September 14, 2017
03:18 PM GMT+8

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SEPTEMBER 14 — I am a retired nurse, living in front of a cluster of schools in Selayang Baru for the past 40 years. 

For the last five years, whenever I sweep the stairs of my three-storey shop cum residence building I find illegal packs and butts of cigarettes with names like John and Luffman left behind by students. 

As a private citizen, I have tried to advise the students but they would retaliate by making more mess in the compound. 

We have resorted to locking up the access to the stairs to prevent students from using that area to smoke.

How did the students get access to these cheap cigarettes? This whole debate of whether to allow tobacco companies to bring back small packs is frankly an insult to the intelligence of Malaysians. 

The health associations, consumer groups and other NGOs must ask themselves why they only blame the tobacco industry, which is, whether one likes it or not, still a legal industry in the country, and insist on dismissing the reality of illegal cigarettes. 

Not one word on the failure to implement policy in fighting smoking which they have a hand in shaping. 

Not a word on how corruption surely has played a role in allowing illegal cigarettes to grow bigger than the legal market.They are all skirting around the real problems: corruption and inefficiency. 

Surely there’s a problem with border control, that these illegal cigarettes are coming into the country with ease and have taken over the market. 

Certainly, there’s a problem when these shops can openly sell illegal cigarettes without fear of enforcement. 

No one wants to talk about the ugly truth but we cannot even begin to talk about fighting smoking if we cannot be honest with ourselves that the RM3 cheap illegal cigarettes are fueling the smoking habit for the majority of the smokers out there.

Stop attacking the tobacco companies which are operating legally in this country when they come up with a legal solution and ask ourselves what’s the root cause of the rise of smoking incidences, or you can come to Selayang Baru and witness how bad the illegal cigarettes situation is.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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