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FOCUS: MIA Secretary General: Illegal tobacco factory busted in Sofia

An illegal tobacco factory was busted on the territory of the capital, Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior Chief Commissioner Svetlozar Lazarov said at a press conference. According to Chief Commissioner Lazarov the money from unpaid excise of the found 5 tons of cut tobacco is around BGN 1 million.

The factory for illegal production of cigarettes was found on Friday within the course of a special police operation carried out in Sofia living district of Orlandovtsi.

Chief Commissioner Svetlozar Lazarov specified the mechanism of work of the illegal factory. He said that after delivering the tobacco, it was being cut then processed and distributed in two directions: in packs of tobacco and cigarettes.

The deliveries were made in restaurants and zoo-shops and from them were redistributed for the entire country. During the course of the operation were arrested two people – a man and a woman, who have advertised the smuggled goods on the Internet. The illegal scheme has been operating for three years, the Commissioner stated.

14 Dec 2013

SCMP: Customs seize HK$1.7m worth of illegal cigarettes hidden in fake water heaters

from Clifford Lo of the SCMP:

Customs officers confiscated more than HK$1.7 million worth contraband cigarettes hidden in fake electric water heaters on Friday.

The consignment – the second such seizure in three months – was discovered after officers followed a cross-boundary lorry to a logistic centre in Sheung Shui at about 11am.

The 34-year-old driver was arrested while unloading the goods from the lorry. The vehicle, which arrived from Shenzhen, was registered as carrying metal and nylon products and ceramic tiles.

In the first 10 months of this year, customs have intercepted 22 big smuggling attempts involving at least 500,000 illegal cigarettes in each case. (SCMP)


GovHK press release: Customs seizes 3.3 million sticks of illicit cigarettes in operation against smuggling and retailing activities

Press release from the Hong Kong government:

Hong Kong Customs mounted a one-week special operation to combat cross-boundary smuggling of illicit cigarettes and distribution of cigarettes throughout the territory. In the operation, a cross-boundary vehicle used for conveying illicit cigarettes was seized and six illicit cigarette storage points were smashed. About 3.3 million sticks of illicit cigarettes were seized. The total market value was about $8.1 million with a duty potential of about $5.6 million. Three men and three women aged between 41 and 58 were arrested.

Illicit cigarettes seized in a cross-boundary vehicle. (


Tough jail terms to curb illegal trade? Firms-supplied genuine goods account for majority of smuggled cigarettes though.

Concerned citizen Mr Lee Lung-wing of Tseung Kwan O sent in a letter to the SCMP, which was published on 10 Oct 2013, suggesting that the government can stem the growth of the illegal trading of cigarettes by making stronger deterrents for offenders. His letter runs as follows:

I refer to the report (“One in three HK cigarettes illegal: study [3]”, October 3).

The study that came out with this figure said that because of so much illicit tobacco the city is losing out on billions of tax revenue.

I do not think this study should prompt a debate about whether the government should lower the tax on cigarette so as to make smuggling unprofitable.

The most important issue should be how to fight the criminals involved in this illegal trade. At the end of the day, there is no public policy that can cure all social ills.

When the government raises tax to discourage cigarette consumption, it should consider thoroughly all the consequences of its action and plan ahead with corresponding solutions.

The problem of illicit cigarettes is not only about potential loss of government revenue but of funds going to criminal groups, which might create more social problems.

The SAR government should not make crime lucrative by turning a blind eye to the problem.

From a criminal justice point of view, the most cost-effective way to combat smuggling of illegal cigarettes is to establish [appropriate] sentencing guidelines in our courts. The administration should increase maximum sentences for buyers and sellers of illicit cigarettes.

Mr Lee’s idea is actually an excellent one, provided if it is understood that the ‘criminals’ in question would, in fact, be the tobacco firms themselves; of the 76 million cigarettes seized by Hong Kong customs last year, 60% were genuine products supplied in large amounts by tobacco firms, a global practice which brings volumes of unspoken benefits to them. The issue of funding criminal activity through cigarette smuggling is, in fact, part of a broad array of tactics aimed at confusing public opinion, as this letter shows, unfortunately, that has somewhat measured success.

Customs crackdown on Malaysian retailers

26-sep-08-4Last updated: March 24, 2010

Source: Tobacco Reporter

A crackdown in Malaysia on retailers selling smuggled cigarettes saw more than 100 cases brought to court during the first two months of this year, according to a story in The Star quoting the deputy director-general of the Customs Department, Datuk Mohamed Khalid Yusuf.

During the whole of last year, only a few cases went to court.

Retailers face being fined 10 times the value of any smuggled cigarettes seized from them.

(hint – do the same in Hong Kong)

“Currently, in Peninsular Malaysia, one out of three cigarette packs sold in the market is illegal, whereas in Sabah and Sarawak, two out of three cigarette packs sold in the market are illegal,” Khalid said.

Letters to the Editor: Officials must crack down on smokers

police-crackdown-415x275Last updated: March 21, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

It is always a pleasure to visit Hong Kong and I felt things would be even better thanks to the smoking ban in pubs and public open spaces. However, I see the law being flouted and it is getting worse. In November there were some incidents, in January a few more, and this month I saw people smoking in so many establishments.

The government seems to be willing to let Hong Kong return to the bad old days. What a shame it will not enforce the law.

There are now several establishments I will not go to because the smoking problem is worse than ever, so at least I’m saving money.

I hope for Hong Kong’s sake the government wakes up before it is too late and the bad old days are back forever.

John Preston, Hawksburn, Victoria, Australia

Upcoming Muhammadiyah congress smoke free

muhammadiyahFirst published: March 15, 2010

Source: Jakarta Post

Muhammadiyah is trying to live up to its commitment to making
cigarette smoking haram, starting with its upcoming congress in July.

Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organization after
Nahdlatul Ulama, will deploy sharia police to enforce the ban on smoking at
the national gathering in Yogyakarta, whose main agenda is to elect new

City Tries to Shut Club It Says Flouts Smoking Ban

bar-smokingFirst published: March 14, 2010

Source: New York Times

The Bloomberg administration is moving closer to shutting one of the largest and busiest nightclubs in the city, as part of an aggressive new strategy to revoke the operating licenses of clubs that health officials believe promote smoking.

The nightclub, the M2 UltraLounge on West 28th Street in Manhattan, went on trial last week at a special administrative court that the city uses when it seeks to take away property. If the case against the club succeeds, it would be the first time the city had closed a business solely for flouting a ban on smoking.

City officials have also moved to take several other clubs before the court, seeking to revoke their food and beverage licenses. It has been an open secret for years among the late-night set that there is a network of so-called smoke-easies throughout the city, from little neighborhood dives to glossy, exclusive boîtes, that let patrons smoke illegally.

Health department officials say that the vast majority of businesses comply with the 2002 law forbidding smoking in clubs and bars, but that inspectors have struggled to enforce it at a handful of high-end places that seem to market themselves as smoker-friendly, some even offering loose cigarettes for sale.

Generally, health officials have looked for signs of active tobacco use as part of their inspections concerning other rules, like those for food safety, and have cited clubs for violations that often result in fines of $200 to $2,000.

But they have had difficulty gaining access to the clubs when patrons are actually smoking.


China official arrested over salacious online diary

chinese-bar-signLast updated: March 15, 2010

Source: BBC

A Chinese official has been arrested after a diary about his colourful private life was posted online, according to state media reports.

In the diary, Han Feng talked about his drinking, his sexual relationships and how he took money from others.

It became an instant hit among internet users when it appeared online in February.

But Mr Han is now being held on suspicion of taking bribes worth more than 480,000 yuan ($70,000).

Mr Han was the sales manager at a government-run tobacco bureau in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China.

His job might not have been the most colourful, but his private life certainly was.

Should Hong Kong remove all the ashtrays? Clear The Air comments

coughing ashtray

It is abundantly clear that the deliberately flawed laws are not working here in Hong Kong.

The onus to keep indoor work places clear of smokers HAS to be placed on the premises managers and licensees.

The Tobacco Control Office is deliberately hopelessly understaffed.

Macau has 70 officers for 544,000 population + tourists whilst HK has just 99 officers for 7 million + 2.5 million tourists per month.

There are 11,000 restaurants and more than 5,000 liquor licensed premises plus mahjong , bath houses, saunas, upstairs premises, bus stations etc to cover.

The number of smoking fixed penalty tickets issued to date is pitiful despite allowing other Government departments (who have no interest in doing so) to issue tickets.  We proposed in Legco 18 months ago to have an Auxiliary group similar to the Auxiliary police to expand the enforcement capability.

The press has been full of complaints from law abiding premises who are losing out on the uneven playing field to premises which ignore the law – actually the premises do not ignore the law since there is no law obliging them to enforce the anti smoking laws. This is an absolute joke. All overseas jurisdictions place the onus on premises’ owners and enforce fines then loss of licence to trade for repeat offences. The big stick works.