Cigarette Smuggling

News, information and statistics about the illicit tobacco trade. Cigarette smuggling on the black market and other facts collected from tobacco companies, security agencies and other public information sources.

Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC) stated in their annual report that 18.4 percent of total cigarette sales in Pakistan in 2012 were either smuggled or were counterfeit cigarettes.

The black market tobacco trade created over $1.9 Million (2 Billion Pakistani Rupee) in losses to the legitimate tobacco industry in Pakistan.

Between 2007 and 2012, the illicit trade increased over 60 percent.

Company officials claim that the high tax rate in Pakistan on cigarettes is the cause of the smuggling. The tax on a pack of cigarettes if sold in a retail store ranges from 68.5 percent to 81 percent.

Source:  Faroq Baloch, “Spreading like fire: One in four cigarettes sold is smuggled or counterfeit,” Express Tribune, September 1, 2013.

According to security estimates by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), there are around 50 illicit tobacco manufacturers producing contraband cigarettes on First Nations in Ontario and Quebec.

Across the border of the United States in New York State,  the RCMP estimates that there are roughly 10 contraband cigarette manufacturers in the Akwesasne Mohawk territory.

The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) reported that there were at least 58 organized crime groups that were involved in the illegal tobacco industry in Canada. 35 of the groups were operating in Central Canada.

Source:  Douglas Quan, “About 50 contraband tobacco manufacturers operating in First Nations reserves, document reveals,”, August 27, 2013.

A carton of cigarettes costs around 20 Euros in Gibraltar, a British territory located on the Southern end of Spain.

In Spain, that same carton of cigarettes is sold on the black market for double the price.

In a media report, cigarette smugglers stated that they are paid $13 (€10) per box oof 500 cigarettes. The smugglers use jet-skis to evade the police while smuggling the contraband into Spain.

Source:  AFP, “Gibraltar chases sea-borne tobacco smugglers,” Google News, August 16, 2013.

Between January and July 2013, authorities in Ireland seized 840 liters of counterfeit alcohol across the country.

Officials state that most of the organized crime groups involved in the production of counterfeit alcohol also are invovled in cigarette smuggling.

Source:  “‘Unscrupulous pub owners’ selling dangerous counterfeit alcohol,” Journal, August 6, 2013.

As of 2013, a carton of cigarettes can be purchased in the US State of Virginia for $15 to $20.

A carton of cigarettes is sold in retail stores in the State of New York for $120 due to state and local taxes.

Cigarette smugglers purchase cartons in Virginia and sell them for $60 to $70 on the black market in New York.

Up to 60 percent of all tobacco smoked in New York was smuggled from out of state.

Source:  Kyle Hughes, “Officials: Cigarette smuggling costing state big money,” Troy Record, August 3, 2013.

As of July 2013, an estimated 800,000 cigarettes were being smuggled into the black market of Costa Rica each day, according to the tobacco industry in the country. The rate of cigarette smuggling was 19 percent higher than the previous year.

In 2008-2009, the smuggling rate for tobacco in Costa Rica was 20 percent of all tobacco consumed in the country. In 2013, the smuggling rate was up to 80 percent.

Source:  Jaime Lopez, “Cigarette Smuggling in Costa Rica on the Rise,” Costa Rica Star, July 5, 2013.

According to a survey by the Center of Planning and Economic Research, the government of Greece is lost up to $780.5 Million (€600 Million) in tax revenue in 2011 to 2012 due to cigarette smuggling activities.

The Finance Ministry stated that there was a drop of 11 percent in tobacco revenue between 2011 and 2012.

Up to 18.6 percent of all tobacco consumed in Greece was purchased on the black market.

Source:  Margarita Papntoniou, “Tobacco Smuggling Soars In Greece,” Greek Reporter, June 29, 2013.

Between 2012-2013, HM Revenue and Customs in the United Kingdom seized a estimated 1.27 billion cigarettes from the black market. Working with its foreign partners, it also seized 56 tonnes of contraband tobacco in foreign countries during the time period.

From 2011 to 2013, HMRC has seized nearly 3.6 billion contraband cigarettes and 1,050 tonnes of rolling tobacco from the black market.

Back in 2010-2011, HMRC reported that taxes were not paid on 9 percent of all cigarettes and 38 percent of hand-rolling tobacco sold in the country. The losses in tax revenue in 2010-2011 was $2.9 Billion (£1.9 Billion).

Source:  “HM Revenue and Customs ‘missing cigarette smuggling targets’,” BBC News, June 5, 2013.

The smuggling and sales of counterfeit goods in 7 major industries in India leads to a tax loss of $4.5 Billion (261 Billion Indian Rupees) to the government, according to a study by Ficci Cascade (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy).

The seven industries that were covered in the study included counterfeit auto parts, counterfeit tobacco and alcohol, and fake electronics.

Source:  “Smuggling, tax evasion cost `26k cr,” Statesman, June 5, 2013.

Law enforcement officials in New York City stated that a single cigarette that is sold within jails on Rikers Island costs $30. The price to purchase the entire pack of 20 cigarettes costs $200.

In the streets of NYC, a single cigarette is sold on the black market for $0.50, and a pack of cigarettes is sold in retail stores for $15.

According to the Bronx District Attorney, between January 2012 to April 2013 there have been 85 arrests of tobacco smugglers attempting to bring in contraband cigarettes into city jails. In the first four months of 2013, police have arrested 20 people for cigarette smuggling.

Source:  Reuven Blau, “Cigarette bans at city jails fuel $200-a-pack black market, surge in arrests,” New York Daily News, May 5, 2013.