The tobacco company Philip Morris Egypt is teaming up with the Customs Authority to take measures against the black market tobacco trade, the company announced Tuesday.
Phillip Morris will help to train Customs Authority teams in the latest techniques to combat cigarettes smuggling, according to a press release. With these skills, Philip Morris hopes to prevent counterfeit cigarettes from entering the Egyptian market.
“Egyptian customs officials exert great effort to protect the market and prevent its flooding with millions of smuggled cigarettes bearing counterfeit trademarks, in spite of [more sophisticated means] of smuggling," said Ali Takesh, managing director of Philip Morris Egypt.
In 2012, Egyptian authorities seized 162 million counterfeit cigarettes set to be smuggled through ports in Alexandria and Port Said, according to the company release. The smugglers had hidden the cigarettes in shipments of furniture, electronics and diplomatic parcels.
Experts say the illegal tobacco trade has increased domestically in the past two years due to lax security measures following the revolution. More Egyptians are also turning to smuggled cigarettes in anticipation of further price raises due to government tax hikes.
“Consumers resort to the black market to purchase illegal products to avoid high prices of locally produced goods following successive tax increases, compared to the smuggled cigarettes," Takesh said.