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Illegal cigarette sales booming in Kingston

Published:Tuesday | July 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis/Gleaner Writer

More than 55 per cent of the cigarettes smoked in Kingston are illegal, according to data from a 2018 Illicit Cigarette Trade Study conducted by Carreras Limited.

Managing director of Carreras, Marcus Steele, speaking during a conference held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew yesterday, described as alarming the findings that placed Kingston at number one with a 56.3 per cent consumption followed by St Ann with 29.6 per cent, and St James with 28.5 per cent.

"When you compare this to other countries and other cities, that's very high. Normally it's averaging about 18 to 25 per cent, but when it reaches 50 per cent, that's the alarming side of it," said Steele.

Cross Roads, downtown Kingston and above Half-Way Tree were highlighted as the regions within the Corporate Area where these illegal cigarettes were being sold.


Disrupt the supply chain


Sunny was the most popular cigarette brand identified, accounting for 25.3 per cent consumption, while Vybz was next with 6.8 per cent.

"We have to pay attention to these brands, and as you know how the illicit trade works - if you clamp down on a particular brand, you see another one just pop up. So, whilst we can recognise a brand, the problem is with the supply chain; we need to disrupt that," said Steele.

"We are of the opinion that the supply chain is very organised; this is not an opportunistic person going out there. If you go into the market, you will see the sustained supply; that has to be coming through some ports, and this is the problem," said Steele.

He added that, based on the research, it showed that the illicit cigarette trade continued to grow in Jamaica.

"If I can walk into any of these areas, and see it; then the law-enforcement officers can do the same. It's illegal, it's depriving the Government of needed revenue and we have to fix that ... . We can't see it in isolation. This is not a Carreras problem, this is our problem," said Steele.