Approximately 2.5 of the 15.4 billion cigarettes sold in Colombia in 2011 were smuggled, according to a study by Colombia’s National Merchant Federation (Fenalco).
Guillermo Botero Nieto, President of Fenalco explained that the Colombian government missed out on $100 million in taxes from the illegal cigarettes.
Smuggling operations are rampant near Colombia’s Carribean coast, with 40% of illegal cigarettes found there. Fenalco’s study also revealed that 20% of cigarettes in the northwestern department of Antioquia are smuggled.
According to results of the survey administered to 1200 people asking about cigarette purchasing habits, underpriveleged Colombians are more likely to buy illegal cigarettes due to their lower price. Respondents claimed that buying smuggled cigarettes can save them up to $0.45 per pack. An average pack of cigarettes costs between $1.30 and $1.90 in Colombia.