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Tobacco products entering Macau decrease 82 percent

From January to May this year, 3.48 million packs of cigarettes have entered Macau, an 82 percent decrease compared to the same period last year, when the number was around 19 million packs, according to a report by Jornal Va Kio.

Cheong Iok Ieng, Chief of the Office of the Secretary for Security, pointed out that the significant decrease occurred after the Macau government raised cigarette taxes last July. Cheong claims that raising taxes is an effective measure to control tobacco consumption.

Between July 14 last year and June 20 of 2016, the Macao Customs Service inspected a total of 1,690 cases related to tobacco products, seizing 1.68 million cigarettes, 392 cigars, and 10.82 kilograms of tobacco.

Last year, the MSAR raised the tax per cigarette from MOP0.5 to MOP1.5. Additionally, each kilogram of tobacco carried MOP600 in taxes, while each kilogram of cigars brought MOP4,326 in taxes. The price adjustment means that 70 percent of the value paid for cigarettes is a tax. Another implemented change concerns individuals who are allowed to bring only 19 cigarettes into Macau per day (a decrease from 100 cigarettes). Instead of 19 cigarettes, individuals may bring in only one cigar, or other tobacco products weighing at most 25 grams.

During the first three days after the law amendment came into effect last year, customs apprehended 3,500 cigarettes per day at the border gate, mainly from mainland tourists.

Cheong revealed that Macau Customs Service required Gongbei customs to broadcast related information about Macau’s tobacco control regulations on the mainland side.

She further informed that the customs officers increased inspections of tourists and vehicles at several border gates in order to combat tobacco smuggling.

In 2012, the local government approved a restriction that meant only 100 cigarettes would be allowed to be brought to the city, half the number allowed before the change.

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