53 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes seized in Lavender, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

53 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes seized in Lavender

A total of 53 cartons and 46 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were uncovered and seized in French Road in Lavender during an operation on Oct 11.

A Singaporean man is assisting in investigations, said Singapore Customs.

Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao reported that the sale of duty-unpaid cigarettes is rampant in the area, where there are six to seven mostly elderly sellers who sell the cigarettes to regular customers, who are mainly older people.

A resident in the area told the newspaper that the prices of these duty-unpaid cigarettes are about half that of legally retailed cigarettes, which cost as much as $16 for a pack of premium cigarettes.

Since February, smokers in Singapore have had to pay more for a packet of cigarettes after a 15 per cent tax hike for all tobacco products took effect.

Singapore Customs figures show an increasing number of duty-unpaid cigarette offenders apprehended in recent years – from 4,963 in 2021, to 7,869 in 2022 and 6,300 for the first half of 2023.

In 2022, 2.16 million packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized. A total of 1.36 million packets were seized in the first half of 2023.

Singapore Customs said it conducts regular patrols and operations and will mount necessary operations, including joint operations with other enforcement agencies, to curb these illicit activities.

Under the law, it is illegal to buy, sell, deliver, store and possess duty-unpaid goods. Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and goods and services tax (GST) evaded, jailed for up to six years, or both.

First-time buyers caught with one packet of duty-unpaid cigarettes would receive an offer of composition sum of $500.

Heavier penalties, such as higher composition sum or prosecution in court, will apply if he or she is found with more than one packet of duty-unpaid cigarettes and/or if he or she is a repeat offender.

Peddlers of duty-unpaid cigarettes will be prosecuted, said Singapore Customs.

Those with information on smuggling activities or evasion of duty or GST can e-mail customs_intelligence@customs.gov.sg to report these illegal activities.