Tougher penalties needed for illicit trade of cigarettes — Glynn

Tougher penalties needed for illicit trade of cigarettes — Glynn

Monday, September 28, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Carreras Limited Managing Director Raoul Glynn is calling on the Government to review the legislation on the penalties and fines associated with the illicit trade of cigarettes and calls for tougher penalties for violators.

In a release today, Glynn noted that the illegal trade is estimated to be depriving governments, particularly in poor and middle-income countries, of an estimated US$40 billion annually in taxes.

In Jamaica, Glynn said it accounts for 21 per cent of the total market, which reflects a decrease from the 30 per cent recorded in 2018.

He referenced a Carreras trade survey which revealed that a proliferation of new and existing brands that have become increasingly available in major towns and small communities across the island are underselling legitimate brands for as low as $25 per stick. The managing director said these cigarette packs are easily identifiable as they are usually without the government’s mandatory labelling requirements, graphic health warnings and in some instances, are printed in a foreign language.

He added that through strengthened partnerships and support, the government could reclaim revenue and redirect it towards the funding of social infrastructure and economic resuscitation.

“In this time, economies across the world are in fear of collapse. Locally, there has been a notable shift in the sectors and businesses that are thriving and are able to play their part in lending to a burgeoning business environment. Now more than ever, we cannot afford to be losing legitimate revenue, every dollar counts and in this case, we are referring to millions and in some instances billions of dollars,” Glynn said.

Noting the work being done by the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime (CTOC) branch as well as the Jamaica Customs Agency to address the issue, Glynn said there should be tougher penalties as a deterrent for violators.

According to the Carreras Limited managing director, addressing the threat of illicit trade requires a multi-stakeholder approach coupled with the political will of government officials at all levels to prioritise the problem. Another recommendation he put forward is the need for robust border and port protection mechanisms and investment in enforcement measures. This, he said, will have the "instantaneous" effect of adding resources and revenues back into the Jamaican economy, stimulating growth, employment and investment.

Glynn said his organisation remains steadfast in addressing the threat posed by the illicit cigarette trade and continues to drive awareness to Jamaicans on the issue.

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