Illegal tobacco products, cigarette trade on the rise

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ISTANBUL

The trade in illegal tobacco products and cigarettes and their consumption are on the rise in Turkey and have cost the state billions of Turkish lira in tax revenue.

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It is estimated that the size of illicit tobacco products accounts for more than 20 percent of the total trade volume in this industry.

Because these products go untaxed, the state lost around 30 billion Turkish liras (about $2 billion) in revenue in 2021 alone, Daily Milliyet reported.

The share of illegal tobacco products and contraband cigarettes in the total sales volume is estimated at over 20 percent and around 3 percent respectively.

Thanks to strict controls and other measures taken, the illicit trade in these products accounted for just 1 percent of the total volume, but it has risen again, which some say may be linked to the high tax on cigarettes and tobacco products.

Cigarette companies are urging authorities to reconsider existing flat-rate taxation policies.

The consumption of roll-your-own tobacco is increasing, especially in the country’s big cities. Those involved in the illicit trade buy tobacco directly from producers and sell it illegally in the country.
Then these products are offered in tobacco shops or even at stalls in open marketplaces. In 2016 there were about 6,000 such stores, but their number has increased to 20,000.

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The Internet has also become a place for trading illicit tobacco products. Cigarette rolling machines, both for personal and industrial use, are easily accessible online. Rolling cigarettes with these machines is also advertised as a job that could be done from home.

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