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. :)
I dropped by Cheesie’s condo earlier this morning to pick up the carton of Marlboros that she had gotten for me duty free during her recent trip to Shanghai. It’s the first time I’ve been to her place and it’s a really nice condominium unit with great security. I’m thinking of getting one myself once my paycheck stabilizes – it’s just about what you would pay for rent, except you get to own the property at the end.
A big thank you goes out to Ringo, who has kindly contributed to my chances of getting lung cancer. ;)
I was at Point One and noticed a new range of cigarettes from Switzerland. It’s called SKL and comes with various flavors with two premium flagship brands.
I got the SKL Strawberry which is described on the pack as “strawberry cigarettes tastefully blended with pipe tobacco”.
The cool factor in the cigarette lies in the presentation – the
entire cigarette is black. It’s really neat, for a lack of a better
adjective at this hour of the night.
SKL Strawberry smokes really well too, at least in
my not-so-humble-opinion. Cherie and Joanne said it tastes like
incense. I like it, but your milage may vary. I’m going to try the
others in the SKL range.
Dunhill Top Leaf is an ultra premium cigarette
manufactured by Dunhill to contain only 100% top leaf tobacco in the
cigarette. It retails for RM 13 for a pack of 20’s (albeit a really nice pack ;)) in selected retail outlets. I got mine from the KLIA airport – brought a couple of packs back.
Dunhill Top Leaf comes in a large form factor box similar to 25’s
but much slimmer in design. There is a leaf imprint on the top of the
pastel red embossed box with the accompanying text “Dunhill ‘D’ Top
Leaf” and “100% Top Leaf Tobacco” inscribed at the bottom. The entire
box looks nothing short of classy and embodies premium tobacco.
The design of the box also includes an embossed BAT (British
American Tobacco) figurehead on the top. The overall design is
minimalist with the words “100% Top Leaf Tobacco” on the bottom saying
it all. I did get a lot of looks bringing it out, probably due to the
Dunhill Top Leaf is described as “The top leaves of each tobacco
plant receive the most sun and develop the most distinctive flavors.
Our blenders use only leaves from the top half of the tobacco plant to
create these remarkably flavorful cigarettes” in a small side bar at
the back of the textured box, as well as the stamp “Made in England”.
Dunhill Top Leaf opens up to reveal two foil wrapped compartments
with each side containing 10 cigarettes. I like the foil design – it
keeps half the cigarettes fresh while the other half is opened. The
dual compartment flat design is standard in most ultra premium
The foil wrapped compartment opens up to reveal 10 cigarettes with
the Dunhill logo and the red embossed “D” below it. I like the feel of
the textured and embossed matte cigarette box as well, although that
has nothing to do with how well it smokes, it still contributes to the
ultra premium experience that you’re paying for. ;)
Dunhill Top Leaf comes out as a really smooth smoke with a
nice distinctive taste that separates it from regular cigarettes. The
only complaint I have regarding the cigarettes (and this was also
iterated by a friend who tried it) is that it’s too mild…the
cigarettes may provide a smooth smoke but the nicotine hit falls a bit
short of the mark.
Dunhill Top Leaf is a nice, smooth ultra premium cigarette though.
Dunhill Hyperion is a blended whisky from Scotland
that carries the Dunhill brand, which is better known for its tobacco
products. It does have a range of palatable blended whiskies though –
the Dunhill Scotch Master series featured in one of my baking adventures [sixthseal.com] (yes, I bake – in more ways than one ;)) is a premium blend.
The liner note from the bottle of Dunhill Hyperion goes “Hyperion,
from Alfred Dunhill, brings a new dimension of to the art of whisky
blending. It marries the finesse of great age with the fresh vitality
of youth to create a blend – Dunhill Hyperion”.
Dunhill Hyperion retails for about RM 300 in most drinking
establishments and is a pretty good whisky for the price range. It may
not be single malt, but it is good for general sculling. I drank most
of the bottle in one night and got pretty fucked up so I rate that as
“Good”. ;) It also comes with a cork, another minutiae that always
rates as “Good” as well in my book.
Behind the Scenes: The bottle keep label writing.
Dunhill Hyperion is a pretty good whisky…I have had a lot of
Dunhill blended whiskies and I actually prefer them to “classic” brands
like Mr. Daniel’s and Mr. Walker’s products. I have been drinking
heavily since I was arrested for drug possession.
P/S – I’m kidding about that last bit, April Fool’s
joke. I have never been arrested and thrown in jail and produced before
a court. Oh, and on another totally unrelated matter, please remind me
to go for confession during mass on Sunday.
Marlboro came out with a Limited Edition Zippo
style pack for all three of their product lines – Marlboro, Marlboro
Menthol and Marlboro Lights. It comes in a sleek silver pack instead of
the usual flip-top box, and it opens like a Zippo. The packs have a
minimalist yet elegant design with mostly silver tints with the
Marlboro logo and the words “Special Edition”.
I managed to snag a couple of packs of the Marlboro and Marlboro
Menthol packs when I was in KL. The places I went to all ran out of the
limited edition Zippo style Marlboro Lights packs. I figured I would
complete the collection in Sarawak, but alas, weeks have passed and
there’s no sign of the limited edition Zippo style packs here. It seems
that the product test market is in KL.
This is the front of the Marlboro Special Edition pack – it is
dominated by silver with gradients into monotone at the side encasing
the letter “M“. The top part of the box has the
Marlboro logo on it (without the text) and is color coded e.g. Marlboro
has a red imprint, Marlboro Menthol has a green one and Marlboro Lights
is embossed with a yellow logo. It is all done very elegantly, sleek is
the word of the day here…
However, the most interesting thing about the Marlboro Special
Edition packs is the opening mechanism. It opens up like a Zippo (the
lighter) to reveal two separate foil wrappers enfolding 10 cigarettes
each. This preserves the freshness of the cigarette as it can be opened
separately. The other noteworthy bit is the sealing mechanism – there
is an indentation at the side (squint to see detail) which the
semi-circle on the top of the pack goes into to “lock” the pack.
The Marlboro Special Edition Zippo style pack is a
great branding experiment in marketing Marlboro as an ultra premium
cigarette. The design is impeccable and the elegant color scheme and
features makes this one of the best Marlboro limited edition packs to
come out in recent memory. Philip Morris moves away from the
traditional “Marlboro Man” style design and did a total facelift to
repackage Marlboro as an elegant and sleek cigarette.
Orange Peel cigarettes are one of the interesting cigarettes out
there in terms of being obvious about their target market. The
packaging of the cigarettes is distinctly orange and the wrap liner
shows that this is another line from DJ Tobacco, the manufactures
behind the DJ Mix series of cigarettes.
The Peel series seems to be a new line of cigarettes for DJ Tobacco’s portfolio, and this is the flavor that Mr Lim [gmail.com] in Langkawi is kind enough to mail me – it’s called Orange Menthol Peel and the cigarettes are just exactly that…they taste like oranges!
The aluminum foil that can be seen as the pack is opened up can only
be described with one word – zesty! There are various different angles
and font sizes of PEEL on the cigarette foil in bright orange and it
appears to look like a citrus windfall. The sharp citrus tang can also
be smelled upon opening the pack – it smells like oranges too!
There is another surprise when I removed the…er, zesty foil. The
filters on the Orange Peel cigarettes are brightly emblazoned with PEEL
Orange Menthol with colorful dioramas of orange representations. This
cigarettes not only looks like its orange flavored, it tastes and
smells like oranges too!
PEEL Orange Menthol cigarettes come highly recommended from me – it’s the closest thing to smoking an orange! ;)
I received a notice that I had a package waiting for me in Customs.
With some trepidation, I went and picked up the parcel from the
Malaysian Post Customs. It cleared just fine – there was just a note on
the package stating “Received in this condition”.
I was wondering what the contents inside were – the package seems to
have a vague box shape to it, and it was secured with some nylon
string. The back of the package is inscribed with the sender’s
information – All Element Trading in Penang. I’m not sure who sent this package, please tell me if you’re the sender, so I can thank you.
Anyway, the brown paper wrap opens up to reveal…a box for a
Panasonic water filter (?). WTF was the main line of thought in my mind
as I investigated further and opened up the box to see if there was
really a water filter inside. I was thinking about what kind of
nefarious person would send me a water filter as a gift. ;)
The box opens out to reveal a newspaper wrapped package. Mysterious
mysteries, but at least it doesn’t feel like a water filter…
It turns out that the newspapers were used to conceal a plastic bag containing cigarettes.