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The Standard: SAR hotspot for smuggled cigs

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Illicit cigarettes make up nearly 34 percent of consumption locally, placing Hong Kong third in the list of cigarette-smuggling places in Asia, according to a study.

The study “Asia-14: 2013 Illicit Tobacco Indicator” notes that nearly 16,600 cases of cigarette- smuggling were handled by the Customs and Excise Department last year, with illicit cigarettes seized worth HK$222 million, up 15.6 percent over 2012.

Illicit cigarettes make up 33.6 percent of the total purchased in the SAR, according to the study, placing Hong Kong behind only Malaysia and Brunei.

The study was conducted by UK-based Oxford Economics in partnership with the US-based International Tax and Investment Center and funded by Phillip Morris International.

ITIC president Daniel Witt said that excessive tax rises are the main cause of the increase.

Planned and gradual tax increases were preferable to radical tax shocks, he said, adding that criminal syndicates could make huge profits if there was a sudden large increase in the price of cigarettes. BRYAN WONG

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