KOTA BHARU: There has been a 73.2% drop in contraband cigarette smuggling activities in Kelantan, with over 4.4 million sticks of cigarettes seized from January to May compared with 16.6 million sticks during the same period last year.

Kelantan Royal Malaysian Customs Department (JKDM) director Wan Jamal Abdul Salam Wan Long said this is due to the continuous operations carried out by the department to curb the smuggling of contraband cigarettes from neighbouring countries either through illegal bases, sea routes and river basins to avoid arrest or confiscation by the authorities.

“Some of the brands of illegal cigarettes which are in high demand in Kelantan are ‘Saat’ and ‘John Blend’, and most of the buyers are low-income foreign general workers and farm workers,” he said in a statement today.

He said the prices of the contraband cigarettes, with unpaid duty, were much cheaper compared with taxed cigarettes, which are around RM8 and RM9 per packet and are believed to be distributed in sundry shops in villages.

“However, the prices of these contraband cigarettes can sometimes be more than RM10 per packet if supplies are hard to come by due to operations carried out by the department,” he said.