Millions of counterfeit and illegally traded cigarettes have been seized in the month of May alone, according to the Interior Ministry.
Smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes have been flooding Egyptian markets for years now, however on Monday the government announced that in May they were able to seize 64 million packs of smuggled cigarettes, of which two million were counterfeit.
The massive seizure was made by custom authorities at Port Said and, according to the Interior Ministry, prevented 56 million illegal packs from entering the country. Alarmingly, this massive shipment wasn’t the only one as authorities managed to seize another 5.9 million packs travelling from the UAE and destined for Ukraine at the same port. This is not the only troubled port, as at Ain Sokhna a further 1.1 million counterfeit packs were discovered with another million packs being confiscated by police at the Suez Canal.
In attempt to curb the smoking population, or arguably just to raise some much needed money, the government has raised taxes on cigarettes on multiple occasions in recent years, which may explain the rising trend of smuggling cigarettes.
One can speculate on the accuracy of the numbers of confiscated cigarettes, as we imagine it would take officials an extremely long time to count the cartons of cigarettes smuggled let alone the individual packs. Only time will tell if this seizure will effectively put a dent into this ongoing trend of smuggling in fake and illegal cigarettes into this nation.