A total of 650m illicit cigarettes have been seized by HK Customs in the past one year

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30th November 2022 – (Hong Kong) The quantity of illicit cigarettes seized by the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED), and the relevant prosecution and conviction figures of illicit cigarette cases detected by C&ED in the past five years are as follows:

 20182019202020212022
(as at 21st November)
Quantity
(million sticks)
5355205427640
No. of prosecuted case#^1,7321,794682865538
 – Smuggling1,0031,131303236104
 – Storage and Distribution21215810617695
 – Peddling517505273453339
No. of
convicted case*^
1,7511,751695858557
 – Smuggling1,0261,109307249111
 – Storage and Distribution212154103159107
 – Peddling513488285450339
Maximum penaltyImprisonment
of 12 months
Imprisonment
of 15 months
Imprisonment of 16 monthsImprisonment of 23 monthsImprisonment
of 17 months
Minimum penaltyFine
at $200  
Fine
at $200
Fine
at $300
Fine
at $200
Fine
at $300

#Cases with prosecution instituted during the year
*Cases with trial concluded during the year
^The number of cases was affected by the relevant COVID-19 measures (e.g. border control and adjournment of court hearings)

No counterfeit cigarettes were seized by C&ED during the aforementioned period. If C&ED suspects that any cigarettes seized or sold in the market are counterfeits, it will invite the relevant trademark owners to verify and take immediate enforcement action if C&ED identifies any acts in breach of law.

C&ED has all along been adopting intelligence-based enforcement strategies and taking comprehensive enforcement actions to combat illicit cigarette activities on different fronts, namely intercepting cross-boundary smuggling in upper stream, smashing storage and distribution activities in mid-stream, and raiding peddling activities in lower stream. C&ED also conducts surveillance operations from time to time against illicit cigarette activities across the territory in order to strengthen intelligence gathering and monitor illicit cigarettes activities.

 C&ED will continue to strengthen its risk assessment and intelligence analysis, and enhance intelligence exchanges with the Mainland and overseas law enforcement agencies in order to combat illicit cigarette activities at source. Besides, C&ED will step up publicity and promotion activities with regard to newsstands and small-sized retail outlet operators with a view to preventing them from contravening the law inadvertently.

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