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Latvians smoked fewer illegal cigarettes in 2015

Contraband cigarettes accounted for 24.8 percent of all cigarettes smoked in Latvia in the last quarter of 2014, and this is the lowest rate during the last six years, according to a study by Nielsen market research company, reported LETA Wednesday.

Cigarette contraband in the second half of 2015 has declined steeply – by 5.5 percent, compared to the first half of the year.

By now contraband amounts have declined nearly by half in comparison with 2010 when cigarette contraband peaked in Latvia at 44.6 percent.

In the second quarter of 2015, contraband cigarettes accounted for 30.3 percent. In the last quarter of 2014, the share of contraband cigarettes was 28.9 percent, and in the second quarter of 2014 it was 30.5 percent.

Excise tax revenues also confirm a downward trend in cigarette contraband. According to the information from the Latvian State Revenue Service (VID), revenue from excise tax on tobacco in 2015 reached EUR 177.3 million which was by EUR 11.1 million or 6.7 percent higher than in 2014.

The share of contraband cigarettes has decreased also due to the VID measures to curb contraband, Edijs Ceipe, Director of the Customs Police Administration at the VID, told the press on Wednesday.

The number of cigarettes seized by the VID units has increased 2.5 times in the last three years, and the number of cigarettes seized by all law enforcement agencies in Latvia has grown 1.9 times.

In the eleven-month period in 2015 as many as 157.3 million illegal cigarettes were seized in Latvia, including 124.8 million contraband cigarettes seized by the VID units.

The study is based on examination of 4,900 discarded cigarette packs that were picked up in the streets or found in garbage bins in September 2015 in 25 largest towns in Latvia.

According to 2014 European Health Interview Survey data, 26.4 percent of Latvia’s residents said they have smoked, which is 8.3 percent less than in 2008 when the number stood at 34.7 percent. Of them, 21.9 percent were daily smokers.

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