Cyprus Mail

Hike in tobacco sales linked to checkpoint closures

File photo

Unlike other goods, which have seen a sharp decrease in consumption during the lockdown last spring, the sale of tobacco and cigarettes in Cyprus has skyrocketed between March and April 2020.

According to a report carried out by research group Retail Zoom and published on Wednesday, the sale of loose tobacco went up by 28 per cent during the lockdown, while cigarettes sales increased by 12 per cent.

One reason behind the spike could be linked to the government decision to close all checkpoints to the north as a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic during the lockdown period.

Many Cypriots regularly travel to the north to illegally buy tobacco and cigarettes at a much cheaper price. With checkpoints closed and access to the north forbidden, many had to revert to buying them legally and at full price.

The report shows that at the beginning of February cigarette sales amounted to €23m, with the figure increasing to €28m at the end of May.

The sale of loose tobacco also increased in the same period, from €3m to €4.5m.

The total value of the tobacco market in Cyprus in the last 12 months reached €344m, the report claims.

According to KPMG, the illegal tobacco market in Cyprus in 2019 accounted for 14.3 per cent of total sales, the highest rate ever recorded in the country, resulting in the state losing €28m in revenues, compared with €16m in 2018.

KPMG also found that the circulation of Illegal cigarettes in Cyprus increased by 70 per cent in 2019 compared with 2018.

In 2019 the customs department confiscated 2,482 tobacco products, including over 17,000 cigarettes, 440 kilos of loose tobacco, 465 kilos of tobacco and over 2,400 cigars.

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