Customs to study trade in illegal cigs

Customs to study trade in illegal cigs
A total of 245 cartons of illicit cigarettes were recovered.

SINGAPORE- Amid growing concern over illegal cigarettes, the authorities have called for a comprehensive survey to estimate the supply of the contraband item in Singapore.

On Dec 19, the Singapore Customs put up a tender on government procurement website GeBiz, seeking a consultancy to conduct the survey.

The online document said that the survey aims to "better understand the illicit cigarette market and the deterrent effects of the anti-contraband cigarette initiatives implemented".

The survey, to be completed by May 30 next year, is targeted at only smokers and should include Singapore citizens, Singapore permanent residents, foreigners working here and tourists.

To be conducted at selected locations and timings, the survey should gather information on the profile of smokers, the brands and costs of cigarettes smoked and where the cigarettes were purchased from.

The move comes amid a surge in contraband cigarettes seized by the Singapore Customs - in the first nine months of this year, there were 1.9 million packets of the item seized, a rise of 84 per cent from the same period last year.

The Tobacco Association of Singapore said "illegal cigarettes are a perennial issue for Singapore given that cigarette prices are $1.60 per pack in Indonesia as compared to $12 per pack here for the same popular brands".

While the association's spokesman welcomed the planned survey, he said there would be people who would not readily admit that they are buying or selling illegal cigarettes.

Last month, the European Union's Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Semeta said the illegal trans-shipment of tobacco products between the EU and Singapore is still high despite the local authorities' best efforts.

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