7 Apr 2024

Do You Smoke? This Is How Counterfeit 'Made In India' Cigarettes Manufactured In China, Other Countries, Are Flooding Indian Markets

Smugglers have shifted their focus from gold to cigarettes, leading to a rapid surge in cigarette smuggling over the past four months. What's startling is the emergence of counterfeit Indian cigarette brands, manufactured in China and Indonesia, flooding the markets unabated. 

Customs authorities have seized over 88 lakh cigarettes in a year, worth a staggering Rs 12 crore. This has led to heightened vigilance across borders and airports to thwart such illicit activities.

The illicit cigarette trade boasts higher profits compared to smuggling gold or drugs. In fact, when cess and duty are added, the price of cigarettes increases five times when imported. According to the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), smuggled cigarettes are five times cheaper than legally sold cigarettes.

Illegal factories of Indian brands being run in China, other countries

It costs less to make illegal cigarettes. No tax has to be paid and advance orders are taken for sale. The punishment for being caught with drugs is dreadful, but for smuggling of cigarettes, drug related sections are not imposed. This is the reason why illegal factories of Indian brands are being run on a large scale in China, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Notably cigarettes are not directly supplied to India from these countries. International smugglers have made Myanmar and Dubai their base. Cigarettes from these countries are being transported to India by flight, sea route and road.

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