MADRID: According to a market study presented this week by multinational tobacco company Altadis and the Consumers’ Association of Andalucía (UCA-UCE), as many as 36% of all smokers in the region purchase Over a third of cigarettes bought in Andalucía are illegaltheir cigarettes and tobacco through illegal channels.
This represents an increase of 2% on the figure which was reached in a previous study in 2013, and means that Andalucía is still by far the Spanish Autonomous Community where contraband tobacco is most common: in fact, it is estimated that 45.6% of all illegal tobacco in Spain is sold in the region. The prevalence of illegal cigarettes is attested to by news items like the one in January, when a clandestine factory which was producing up to 65,000 packs of cigarettes a day was busted in the province of Sevilla, and hauls like the one in March in which 83,000 packs were intercepted in Huelva are not uncommon.
According to the study published this Tuesday, most smokers are unaware of where their cigarettes or rolling tobacco come from and what the legal sales channels actually are. Apparently, in Andalucía only a third know that officially tobacco can only be bought in Spain at “estancos” and from automatic vending machines: many believe that cigarettes sold over the counter at street kiosks and in discotheques are legal, and this is not the case.
According to Juan Moreno, the president of UCA-UCE, smokers are keen to buy cheaper cigarettes but ignore the potential health risks involved in purchasing contraband products. Some might see it as ironic that Sr Moreno is implying that “normal” cigarettes are a relatively healthy alternative, but nonetheless the point is valid, as is the resulting lack of tax revenue for the government.