Cigarettes in Malaysia, 2017
The market for cigarettes in Malaysia has experienced contrasting trends in recent years. Recently the legitimate market has suffered badly from a series of price and tax increases, culminating in a combination of tax rises and a crackdown on black market activities. Malaysia is a production centre of choice for BAT, PMI and JTI to service other South East Asian regional markets, although output fell by around a third in 2013 to 17.87 billion pieces and was 16.33 billion pieces in 2015. Imports have not historically been very significant, although officially reported volumes appear unreliable.
The market is dominated by three major international manufacturers: BAT, JTI and PMI. British American Tobacco (BAT) Malaysia is the clear leader with a 61.2% share in 2014,leading the premium market while JTI is the leader in the value-for-money market Forecasts for 2015 remain pessimistic with a further 7.2% fall in sales expected to 9.8 billion pieces. There are no signs that the industry expects a substantial reduction in black market levels in the short term as price is such an important factor for the vast majority of consumers.
Cigarette consumption in Malaysia has fluctuated since 1990 although more recently been in sharp decline. A 9.7% fall in 2009, a 1.9% drop in 2010 and a 2.3% fall in 2011 were a result of rises in excise duty and increased non-duty paid sales. Although volumes were up by 2.7% in 2012, this was in anticipation of another tax hike at the beginning of 2013. The impact of this rise was to reduce sales by 16.2% to 12.18 billion pieces with another tax inspired fall of 13.3% to 10.56 billion pieces in 2014. Sales are set to decline again in 2015.
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