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Title: Spanish smokers, squeezed by higher taxes and a deepening recession, are increasingly relying on smugglers to feed their habit.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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Illegal imports now account for 7 percent to 8 percent of Spanish cigarette sales, compared with almost nothing a year ago, according to t...


Illegal imports now account for 7 percent to 8 percent of Spanish cigarette sales, compared with almost nothing a year ago, according to the country’s tobacconists association. In southern provinces such as Cadiz, Seville and Malaga, the proportion is 20 percent.
“Smuggling and fake tobacco, which had been eradicated since 1993, came back strongly last year,” said Jaime Gil- Robles, corporate affairs director at Altadis, the Spanish unit of Imperial Tobacco Group Plc.
Smuggling, encouraged by a December 2010 increase in tobacco taxes and a ban on smoking in public places, has eroded both government coffers and company revenues. Spain, which has the European Union’s highest jobless rate, collected 14 percent less tobacco taxes in 2011 than a forecast of 9.05 billion euros ($12 billion), excluding value-added tax, according to Altadis.
“The fiscal policy was disastrous as it forced an average increase of 50 euro cents per packet,” Gil-Robles said. “Add the crisis and skyrocketing unemployment to that and you have the best scenario for smuggling and illicit tobacco.”
In a single week last month, Spanish tax authorities seized more than a million illegal packets of cigarettes worth about 4 million euros. In December, officials said they confiscated 561,500 packets of fake Marlboro brand cigarettes which were imported from China and entered the country through the port of Valencia in a container marked “synthetic fiber.”:Text may be subject to copyright.This blog does not claim copyright to any such text. Copyright remains with the original copyright holder.

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