One hundred Vietnamese officials and representatives from relevant ministries and agencies met on January 25 at Ha Noi to discuss how to implement a new government circular on handling the illicit trade in cigarettes, according to a story in Vietnam News.
The circular sets out strict penalties for trading, transporting and storing smuggled tobacco.
People who are found attempting to smuggle 1,500 to 4,500 packs are liable to criminal prosecution and may be imprisoned for between six months and three years.
Those who attempt to smuggle between 4,501 and 13,500 packs face the prospect of imprisonment for between three and seven years.
And those who try to smuggle more than 13,500 packs are liable to be incarcerated for seven to 15 years.
The seminar was told that Jet and Hero cigarettes had been smuggled into the country for 15 years and that the quantity of smuggled cigarettes had increased significantly year by year.
‘These cigarettes are produced by Sumatra Tobacco Company in Indonesia, but are rarely used by Indonesians,’ the story said. ‘The cigarettes are imported legally into Cambodia due to its preferential tax policy and then exported illegally into Viet Nam.’
The story implied that the scale of the smuggling was such that domestic agriculture had suffered and that 180,000 people formerly employed by the tobacco sector were now unemployed.
Cigarette manufacturing, packaging, printing and box production had all been badly affected.
Smuggled cigarettes account for about 20 per cent of the Vietnamese market.
Category: Breaking News