Cigarette sales in Hungary plummet 39% as black market flourishes

February 20, 2015


The number of cigarettes sold legally in Hungary decreased last year from 12 billion to 7.3 billion, or approximately 384 million packs of cigarettes.  Hungary’s 6000 national tobacco retailers had revenues of HUF 535 billion (USD 2.4 billion) in 2014, for an average of HUF 90 million (USD 410,000) per shop.   The annual revenues of some shops reportedly exceeded HUF 600 million (USD 2.7 million) in 2014.

The nearly 40 percent decrease in official tobacco sales was accompanied by a four-fold increase in the amount of illegal tobacco products seized by the National Tax and Customs Authority (NAV).  In 2013 it seized 6.7 tons of tobacco and tobacco products.  In 2014 it seized 27 tons, suggesting the black market for tobacco products continues to grow.

Hungary’s Fidesz-KDNP controlled parliament passed a law at the end of 2011 creating a national monopoly on retailing of tobacco products.