Illicit tobacco trade costs Zambia more than K50 million per year

Government’s efforts to shore up the national budget and boost foreign reserves remain exposed to the continued loss of taxation revenue through illicit trade and smuggling. Increased law enforcement and border controls should be a priority for stakeholders including the Ministry of Home Affairs if Zambia is to address the country’s loss of revenue resulting from a drop incopper prices among other factors.According to the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA), so profitable is the illicit trade that tobacco products are the world’s most widely smuggled legal product today. The illicit trade in tobacco products is a multi-billion-dollar business, fuelling organised crime and corruption, as well as robbing governments of much-needed tax money.In Zambia, more than 400 million cigarettes a year enter the market illicitly smuggled, counterfeited or tax-evaded, accounting for 30% of the product on the market. Stemming the flow of illicit cigarettes on the market could help bridge the national budget deficit gap.