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November 18th, 2013:

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. (


Neil H. Cruz: “Cheap cigarettes from China flooding PH”

Neil H. Cruz, a writer known for his anti-policy, opinionated (and sometimes wacky) columns for the Philippine Inquirer, expresses somewhat naively his concerns about the high tobacco tax policy in the Philippines:

The government raised the excise tax on cigarettes to increase tax collection and, allegedly, to force smokers to quit or at least smoke less. With the price of cigarettes sky-high because of the higher taxes, the government reasoned out, smokers would either smoke less or quit smoking completely, thus saving themselves from the ravages of lung cancer, emphysema and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), all of which can be fatal.

The high tax regime has been in force since January. Has it forced smokers to quit? No. Has it pushed street prices of cigarettes high enough to make smokers quit? No. Has the government been able to collect more taxes? Still no.

Worse, what Filipinos are smoking now is much more harmful to their health than what they used to smoke. What happened?