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Thai tobacco trade rocked by boom in online sales of illegal cigs
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2023
Internet sellers are flooding Thailand with illegal, untaxed cigarettes and exposing children to the habit, the tobacco industry warned on Wednesday.
Thai Tobacco Trade Association (TTTA) director Thanyasarun Sangthong said illegal tobacco products have gone viral online due to low operation costs and the ability to avoid inspection by police or customs.
“Meanwhile, illegal tobacco sellers can access as many different groups of customers [online] as they want,” she said.
Online trade of illegal tobacco grew 97% from July to September last year, Thanyasarun said, citing findings from a TTTA survey.
The jump in illegal online trade is blamed on contraband cigarettes smuggled over the border to avoid tax duty before being sold via the internet.
She said 91% of illegal tobacco trades were performed via Twitter, followed by Facebook (9%).
“There are three reasons why illegal tobacco is popular among netizens: the cheap price compared to legal products, the taste, and convenient trade channels,” she said.
She added that TTTA conducted the survey after the Tobacco Authority of Thailand announced a price rise for cigarettes to 66 baht per box following a tax hike.
Illegal online sellers are also free to advertise their products or cut prices, unlike their legal counterparts, she added.
The TTTA chief pressed the Excise Department, Finance Ministry, and Technology Crime Suppression Division to urgently tackle the growing illegal online tobacco trade.
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