Study: 40% of cigarettes consumed in West Bank sold 'illegally'
Published Sunday 05/01/2014 (updated) 06/01/2014 13:39
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A large percentage of cigarettes consumed in the Palestinian market are made from local tobacco and sold through informal means, a local study has showed.
The study, by Alpha International for Research, Polling and Informatics, suggests that about 45 million cigarette packs are sold illegally in the West Bank every year, which means the Ministry of Finance is losing 400-450 million shekels a year in customs taxes.
In addition to not passing through customs, this means that the majority of cigarettes are not subject to tests by the ministry of health nor to the placement of warning messages on packages.
The study found that 84 percent of consumers who use illegal cigarettes smoke local tobacco. They either buy tobacco and roll it themselves, or buy homemade cigarettes packaged in nylon sacks or simple boxes.
These cigarettes, according to the study, are either smuggled, or packaged manually from tobacco produced by Palestinian farmers mostly from the northern West Bank.
More than half of smokers have started to consume these homemade cigarettes in the last few months as cigarette prices have been raised repeatedly.
Consumers can buy these cigarettes in supermarkets, small groceries, and street stands for five shekels for a 20-cigarette pack. Meanwhile, the minimum price of normal cigarette packs is 16.5 shekels.