Hong Kong Customs raids suspected illicit cigarette storage (with photo)

9 Jun 2022

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (June 8) raided a suspected illicit cigarette storage in Tai Po and seized about 3.3 million suspected illicit cigarettes and about 120 000 suspected alternative smoking products (ASPs) with an estimated market value of about $9.2 million and about $300,000 respectively. The duty potential of the batch of suspected illicit cigarettes was about $6.5 million.

During an anti-illicit cigarette operation conducted in Tai Po yesterday afternoon, Customs officers seized the batch of suspected illicit cigarettes and suspected ASPs at a residential premises. Two men, aged 25 and 34, suspected to be connected with the case were arrested and a light goods vehicle suspected to be involved was also detained. Customs believes that a suspected illicit cigarette storehouse was raided during the operation.

An investigation is ongoing. Customs will continue to trace the source and flow of the illicit cigarettes. The likelihood of further arrests is not ruled out.

Customs will continue to combat illicit cigarette activities on all fronts through intelligence analysis.

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession of, selling or buying illicit cigarettes commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.

Under the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, any person who imports, promotes, manufactures, sells or possesses for commercial purposes ASPs, including electronic cigarette products, heated tobacco products, herbal cigarettes and any related devices, parts and accessories, commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

Members of the public may report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk). They may call the Department of Health at 2961 8823 for further enquiries and complaints relating to ASPs.

Ends/Thursday, June 9, 2022

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