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Dec 27, 2019 / 12:03

Rampant cigarette smuggling in Vietnam defyies law

Local authorities attributed the rampant smuggling to legal loopholes in which regulations on destroying smuggled cigarette remain unclear while demand for cigarette is on the rise.

Smuggling of cigarettes in Vietnam, mostly in areas sharing border with Cambodia, remains rampant and still defies law despite local authorities' efforts to crack down on this practice, local media cited an official from the Vietnam Tobacco Association.

 90% of smuggled cigarette in Vietnam are Jet and Hero brands. Photo: Bcd389

The value of smuggled cigarettes accounts for maximum 25% of the market per year, said Nguyen Triet, General Secretary of Vietnam Tobacco Association, adding that only 1% of the smuggled volume is seized.

Each year, roughly 700 million packs of cigarettes pass through Vietnam’s borders from China, Laos, and Cambodia, Triet said, adding that the smuggled volume is bound for the provinces of Long An, An Giang, Tay Ninh, and Binh Phuoc.

Of the localities, Long An is a “hotspot” for cigarette smuggling. Authorities unveiled nearly 900 cases in the first 10 months this year and confiscated 1.57 million packs of cigarettes, according to the National Steering Committee on Combating Smuggling, Commercial Fraud and Counterfeit Goods.

Local officials attributed the rampant smuggling to legal loopholes.

Meanwhile, both local and international blame low cigarette prices for the availability of cigarettes in Vietnam. According to the World Health Organization, the country is among the top 15 with the lowest tobacco prices.

The number of smokers in Vietnam reaches 15.6 million people who spend some VND31 trillion (US$1.36 billion) on cigarettes per year. The figure leaves Vietnam among countries with the highest number of smokers

According to local authorities, 90% of smuggled cigarettes in Vietnam are Jet and Hero brands.

In another move, local media cited Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba)’s experiment showing that both Jet and Hero cigarettes have higher nicotine and humidity ratios than those produced domestically.

The nicotine ratio in Jet and Hero is 2.61% and 2.48%, respectively, while the humidity is 14.3% and 14.6%, respectively. High humidity easily results in different kinds of fungus which are harmful to smokers’ health, Vinataba warned.