Yeah, I’m talking about tobacco! I was watching this expose on cigarettes in an episode of VICE on HBO and realized that the place they’re talking about (Indonesia) could very well be in Malaysia! I’ve actually spent a couple of years in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and the trade in illegal cigarettes there is really bad.
It’s causing a lot of young kids to smoke…just like in the documentary, children as young as 6 years old are starting to smoke on a daily basis and no one stops them coz illegal cigarettes are not regulated! A lot of these cigarettes are sold by vendors with no operating licence anyway so they don’t care who they sell to.
Small children can afford the price of these illegal cigarettes since they’re so cheap compared to the premium legal brands. This causes health problems as well as social problems. The Ministry of Health’s Dr. Chong has also talked in length about the danger of kretek (clove) cigarettes in this New Straits Times article.
The predominant brand there at the time is JOHN (RM 2.50) but there are others like GG, Manchester, Canyon, Luffman etc. It’s usually sold by immigrants and those cigarettes tastes nasty. I was in a facility at the time and this was all that they could get.
I think I did more damage to my lungs in that time than ever before. These illegal cigarettes are not made to the exact specifications of the premium legal brands like Marlboro, Dunhill etc and some of them, I hear, are scraps of tobacco and other detritus just packaged together and sold as is – caveat emptor!
Any pack of cigarettes that is sold below RM 7 is illegal. That is the minimum price set by the government and crime syndicates brings in these illegal cigarettes for sale via various points around Malaysia. I know that Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is a large distribution center and this leads to a lot of illegal activity, gangs, and the revenue from this funds a huge criminal enterprise and there’s an article on NST that ties the illegal cigarette trade as a smokescreen for gangs.
Crime syndicates nowadays rely on a lot of revenue streams and besides the classic triad of prostitution, drugs and racketeering, the “lower risk high reward” items are still illegal alcohol and cigarettes (besides gambling) which can really bring a lot of harm to society. I come from a small town with a large gang problem (which was helped somewhat with the original Operasi Cantas Kenyalang) so I know first hand what crime syndicates will do to a town.
I’ve never the urge to purchase illegal cigarettes as they taste foul but I know some people do it coz of cost concerns. However, there’s a nationwide crackdown on illegal cigarettes now and not just retailers, but consumers i.e. YOU can go to jail if you’re caught buying illegal cigarettes.
Don’t support criminal enterprises – just like I never buy illegal lottery tickets (there’s the risk of not getting returns) I don’t ever buy illegal cigarette brands like JOHN, GG, Manchester, Canyon, Luffman etc. It’s not just coz they taste bad but smokers can be jailed up to 2 years and/or fined RM 10,000 if caught in possession of illegal cigarettes.
I do it all the time. It’s quite paradoxical since I imposed a strict no-smoking rule in my studio apartment – I step out to the balcony if I feel like I need a nicotine infusion instead. However, I do smoke in my car and I usually have to leave the window down while driving to make the smell dissipate.
This creates more problems in itself since the haze and pollution in KL, combined with the emission from other vehicle exhausts enters your car.
Well you know how bad it can be but first let me tell you about this interesting workshop I attended.
It had me smelling ammonia voluntarily.
Haha. Read on.
It was the Sharp Plasmacluster Beauty Care event held at A Cut Above. The academy actually has a very interesting project by its students. Check it out:
It’s completely fictional of course, and it’s not Photoshopped – everything is done on set and photographed. I thought it was quite intriguing.
Back to the Sharp Plasmacluster Beauty Care range, they have six new products from the huge Plasmacluster Ion Generator to progressively more portable devices which you can fit on your desk, car and even your own body (Mobile Ion Generator) which you can hang on your neck via a lanyard.
Left to right: Plasmacluster Ion Generator – perfect for coverage up to 10m2 and you can tilt it and put it anywhere you want. Bedside Ion Generator – get quality sleep with 25,000 ions/cc. It also helps retain skin and hair moisture! It’s the tall device beside the black Plasmacluster Ion Generator. Desktop Ion Generator with Humidifying Function – this one comes with a water tank so it’ll release additional moisture. It can use a USB or AC adapter – well suited to your office or home desk I reckon. Ion Generator for Cars – this is what I’m using! It connects to the cigarette lighter socket in your car and deodorizes 30% faster when you boost it to Turbo mode. No more lingering tobacco smell! Mobile Ion Generator – this baby is small but powerful. It uses AC, USB or even a lithium ion battery and works for 4 hours! Hair Conditioning Dryer – moisturizes hair and removes static electricity. It also keeps moisture in and split ends out. Some discerning customers bring their own to hair salons!
The basics behind all this is explained to us by Mr Chew, which I found rather interesting. The bit that really caught my attention is the fact that people are naturally attracted to high ion concentration places in nature like waterfalls coz they induce serotonin production!
You know how much I love talking about serotonin. Heh.
Anyway, the principles behind Sharp’s Plasmacluster Ion Generators has been refined since 2000 to the device they have today which is capable of producing 25,000 ions/cc!
This is important as research has shown that cities like KL and other urban areas has only about 300 positively charged ions/cc and 100 negatively charged ions/cc while the nature which our healthier ancestors lived in has 4,000 positive and negative charged ions/cc. This is still evident in places like forests nowadays but we all know that’s a dwindling commodity.
Cheesie’s hair being violated. Demonstration of Cheesie’s hair after the hairdryer treatment.
The entire range of Sharp’s Plasmacluster Ion Generators is meant to restore that balance…and improve on it! Plasmacluster Ion Technology releases the very same ions that occurs in nature, which is then bonded with water molecules and delivered all over the place. Thus it not only produces massive amounts of ions, but also hydrates the skin and hair!
The ions turns into hydroxide when it comes into contact with contaminants, which effectively destroys it. It also removed bacteria, viruses, allergens, mold, odors and other pollutants and contaminants. It’s been tested and proven by various institutions around the world – from the US to Japan.
This is a perfect example which I luckily managed to film. Mr Chew demonstrated the effectiveness of Sharp’s Plasmacluster Ion Technology by soaking a tissue with pure ammonia and asking if anyone wants to smell it.
I naturally volunteered! :D
I smelled the tissue soaked with ammonia tentatively…
It smelled like a very popular public toilet frequented by renal failure patients that hasn’t been cleaned for a DECADE.
I was polite enough to say it smelled like hair bleach though. HAHAHA
The ammonia appears blue in color when exposed to the tissue. He then put it under the Plasmacluster Ion Generator for just a few seconds and the blue color turned into orange – thus removing the ammonia, and not only that, the odor disappeared as well!
Check it out! The process of the ammonia turning from blue to orange (clean). I know coz I smelled it after it was treated. Heh! :)
It’s magical! The smell of pure concentrated ammonia magically disappears after a few seconds under the ionizer.
That’s the wonderful odor busting properties it has, in addition to the moisturizing effects. It looks orange but that’s not coz of the ammonia – the ammonia stains it blue, and the blue has been removed by just a few seconds of the ion treatment. Awesome right?
I would even use it to wipe my face….IF I didn’t know it had been soaked in ammonia before the ionizer treatment. ;)
I figured that the best product for me is the Plasmacluster Ion Generator for Cars. I smoke in my car so I figured that I’ll take it for a test drive (no pun intended).
It’s very easy to use, just connect the device to the cigarette lighter socket in your car, and it’s ready to go.
You can set power levels too – from low to a mode called Turbo, which I immediately went for.
It actually emits moisturized air and ions – I was smelling it straight and got a good dose of nice clean ionized air.
I have put it in my car for several days now – it’s particularly nice at night since the illuminated LEDs allows you to see what the settings are and you can change the mode and levels if you want, just via a simple press of a button.
Did it work? I was already convinced when I watched and filmed that demonstration in the Sharp workshop but I wanted to try it out for myself.
I also have a bad tendency of eating in my car, and that emits odors as well. I did just that and smoked while driving back home with the Plasmacluster Ion Generator for Cars on Turbo mode.
There was no smell at all after 1 minute with the windows rolled up!
It’s not just for smokers too, the Sharp Plasmacluster technology purifies the air by:
Suppressing the effects of airborne viruses
Breaking down and removing airborne mold
Breaking down and removing allergens
…which creates fresh clean air and lock-in skin moisture! It’s something that every car needs so you won’t have to jump in fright when someone else sneezes just in case another outbreak of H1N1 occurs. It also makes your car environment a healthier place.
The design is awesome too – the Plasmacluster Ion Generator for Cars is shaped like a pint glass so you can put it in the drinks holder of your car. It’s aesthetically pleasing as as mentioned the illuminated LEDs are very useful at night.
Check out the Sharp Plasmacluster Beauty Care range for something that suits you – there’s even a model for your bedside so you can sleep in peace:
My Plasmacluster Ion Generator for Cars really works in quickly reducing odors – forget about car fragrances, those only mask the smell of tobacco, it doesn’t actually remove it. I love it! It’s perfect for my lifestyle. :)