Illicit cigarette consumption and government revenue loss in Vietnam: Evidence from a primary data approach
Publication Source

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Journal article
Western Pacific
Economy status
Lower-middle-income economies

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.