Illicit tobacco products, cigarette trade on the rise
Illicit tobacco products and cigarette trade and their consumption have been on the rise in Turkey, costing the state billions of Turkish Liras in tax revenues.
It is estimated that the size of illicit tobacco products accounts for more than 20 percent of all trade volume in this industry.
Since those products are untaxed, the state lost some 30 billion Turkish Liras (around $2 billion) in revenues in 2021 alone, Daily Milliyet reported.
The share of illicit tobacco products and smuggled cigarettes in total sales volume is believed to be more than 20 percent and around 3 percent, respectively.
Thanks to strict inspections and other measures taken, the share of illicit trading of those products was as low as 1 percent in total volume but started to increase again, which some say may be linked to the high tax levied on cigarettes and tobacco products.
Cigarette companies are calling on authorities to reconsider the existing lump-sum tax policy.
In particular, the consumption of rolling tobacco has been on the rise in the country’s large cities. Those involved in the illicit trading buy tobacco directly from growers and sell them in the country through illegal means.
Then those products are offered at tobacco shops or even stands in open marketplaces. Back in 2016, there were some 6,000 such stores, but their numbers have increased to 20,000.
The internet has also become a venue for illicit tobacco products trading. Cigarette rolling machines, both for personal and industrial use, are easily accessible online. Cigarette rolling with those machines is also promoted as a job that could be done from home.