‘Mini-cigars’ comply with health, tax laws, says British American Tobacco

The Dunhill mini-cigars sold in East Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: British American Tobacco Malaysia (BAT) has defended the sale of its “mini-cigars” introduced in East Malaysia as legitimate tobacco products which comply with the health ministry and Royal Malaysian Customs Department laws.

This came after it was earlier reported that the ministry will look into the sale of “mini-cigars” in East Malaysia using the Dunhill brand, which was then believed to be smuggled or illicit as they did not bear any tax stamps or health ministry pictorial warnings.

BAT, in a statement, said the “mini-cigars”, known as Dunhill HTL Cigarillos, were not a smuggled or illicit product.

“Dunhill HTL Cigarillo is not a cigarette and is fully compliant with the laws that are related to non-cigarettes.

“The price has been approved by the health ministry for sale and excise duty has been paid in accordance with customs requirements.”

Previously, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the ministry would look into the product as generally all legal cigarettes are subject to regulations under the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004.

Under this regulation, a cigarette is defined as “any product which consists wholly or partly of cut, shredded or manufactured tobacco, or of any tobacco derivative or substitute, rolled up in a single or more wrapper of paper, and which is capable of being immediately used for smoking”.

BAT also said the tobacco-wrapped product was only available in a pack of 20 sticks in Sabah and Sarawak and it is not available in a pack of 10 as earlier reported.

The company’s managing director, Erik Stoel, said the product was introduced as part of the company’s efforts to combat illegal tobacco products.

“It is encouraging to note that in the last Budget, the government has acknowledged the issue of illegal cigarettes and to date adopted some measures to tackle the issue.

“The illegal cigarette trade is a complex problem that requires diversity in approach across all channels.

“We need to remember that about 60% of the market does not and will not comply with existing requirements and regulations,” he said.

So, Stoel said, BAT was doing everything it could to complement the government’s efforts in addressing the matter.