International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
This article provides the first comprehensive picture and independent estimates of both illicit cigarette consumption and the resulting government tax revenue loss in Vietnam using data from a representative survey of cigarette smokers in 12 Vietnamese provinces. The survey consisted of face-to-face interviews and on-site cigarette pack examinations. We find that more than 720 million illicit cigarette packs, or 20.7% of total cigarette consumption, circulated in Vietnam in 2012. Consequently, government tax revenue loss due to illicit trade ranged from US $223 to 295 million. Our estimates also indicate that (1) the most popular illicit brands were Jet and Hero, both were sold at higher prices than the average legal brand; (2) the average price of illicit cigarettes
was 51% higher than the average price of legal cigarettes; and (3) majority of illicit cigarettes were sold at convenience stores, which were registered and licensed businesses. Our findings suggest that prices are not a driver of illicit cigarette consumption in Vietnam, and this illicit trade is at least partially a consequence of weak market control enforcement.