Legal cigarette sales in Hungary plummet as black market flourishes

August 21, 2014


Hungary’s exploding black market in cigarettes is depriving the country of billions in tax receipts and may soon overtake the legal market for cigarettes.

Legal cigarette sales in Hungary fell by nearly half in the first six months of 2014 compared to two years ago, according to information released by the National Tax and Customs Authority (NAV).

While 6.2 billion cigarettes were sold in Hungary in the first half of 2012, only 3.6 billion were sold during the same period in 2014, Világgazdaság wrote on Thursday. The business daily calls the news “a big setback”, especially as the 9.3 billion cigarettes officially sold in 2013 was also a record low for Hungary. The NAV data suggests that the 2014 turnover may be around 8 billion cigarettes.

Although NAV said it cannot estimate the size of the black market in tobacco products at this point, it conceded that it intercepts only a small fraction of smuggled tobacco entering Hungary overland.

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