Sinds twee jaar geleden op Malta een algemeen rookverbod inging, zijn de verkopen van tabak en de accijnsinkomsten van de overheid sterk gestegen. Volgens een artikel op een Maltese site is dit te danken aan de door accijnsverhogingen veroorzaakte vlucht naar de zwarte markt.
Maar dit lijkt toch een beetje vreemd: is het niet zo dat de zwarte markt betekent dat er geen accijnsen voor die tabaksartikelen worden betaald? Hoe kunnen dan toch de accijnsinkomsten van de Maltese overheid stijgen?
Zien we op Malta niet gewoon hetzelfde gebeuren als in andere landen waar rookverboden zijn geÔntroduceerd? ItaliŽ, Ierland en Schotland laten hetzelfde effect van rookverboden zien.
Anti-smoking advocates would like to believe the smoking ban is bringing down the sales of cigarettes and tobacco but the amounts raked in by the government from nicotine sales over the last two years have actually gone up.
Despite the initial hullabaloo from the nicotine industry and much hype from public health officials, it turns out that the biggest shocks to the smoking market come from the black economy, rather than official bans on smoking in public places.
The budget estimates just released show that instead of the predicted decline on cigarette sales, an upward trend was registered over the years since the smoking ban was introduced in 2004.
While in that year the amount raised by the government from excise duties on machine-made cigarettes amounted to Lm24.7 million, the figure went up to Lm26.2 million in 2005, going up to Lm28.7 million in 2006 and estimated to go further up to Lm30.4 million next year.
Tobacco has similarly registered an increase from Lm896,350 in 2004 to Lm934,264 the following year. This year there was a slight slump to Lm890,000 but for next year government is predicting to collect total of Lm950,000 from excise duties on tobacco.
The figures stand in stark contrast with the alleged 20 per cent reduction in smoking hailed by the health promotion department just in the wake of the October 2004 regulations banning smoking in all public places.
At that time department officials were patting themselves on the back as they believed the immediate drop in cigarette sales was attributed to the ban, although tobacco producers had immediately toned down falling sales figures to around 5 per cent.
Industry sources say the 5 per cent initial drop has in fact remained constant but the biggest measure to hit cigarette sales was when taxes on nicotine were raised considerably two years ago.
ďItís the taxes and excise duties that leave a huge impact on sales, and what that really means is that whenever there is a budget imposing new taxes there is usually a boom on the black market,Ē said the managing director of Central Cigarettes, Ronnie Abela.
At present, 76 per cent of the cost of a cigarette packet is netted by the government as brands selling at Lm1.55 today have gone up from Lm1.10 a decade ago.
ďThe smoking ban obviously had an effect as smokers could smoke less, so there was less consumption, but the biggest factor to affect sales remain the taxes, which whenever announced lead to an influx of smuggled cigarettes flooding the market,Ē Abela said, estimating smuggled cigarettes on the market to be in the region of 7 to 10 per cent.
Bron: Malta Today