The circulation of illegal cigarettes has increased in Lembata Regency, East Nusa Tenggara as of May 2, 2023. The rise of illegal cigarettes has caused unrest among the public, especially cigarette businesses who are losing money.
Illegal cigarette sales are a major problem in Indonesia, which causes not only losses to the state but also health risks to consumers. Illegal cigarettes are often produced without proper quality control measures that can contain dangerous substances.
Circulation of illegal cigarettes can be seen through brands, fake excise stamps, expired excise stamps, different excise stamps, or plain cigarettes without excise stamps. There is also the use of excise stamps for hand-rolled kretek cigarettes (SKT) for machine-rolled kretek cigarettes (SKM), which is illegal.
In addition, there are indications of excise manipulation, the excise paid is not in accordance with the number of cigarettes contained in the packs of cigarettes being sold. This modus operandi can be found in various kiosks and shops, with cigarette brands such as Rastel, Seven, Cappuccino X9, Arow, Saga Bold, Apple, Tanos and others. The emergence of these cases has recently caused sales of illegal cigarettes to increase, because the price is much cheaper than legal cigarettes on the market.
Hasim, Head of the Indonesian National Journalist for Barru Regency, said that at Pekkae Market Shophouse No. 14, Tanete Rilau District, Barru Regency, many illegal or duty-free cigarettes were found circulating with the Scatter Bold and Shield brands originating from Soppeng Regency. The prices for the two brands of cigarettes are IDR 12,500/pack, and IDR 13,000/pack with 20 cigarettes respectively. According to him, it is suspected that this circulation has been going on for a long time and has become part of business activities that violate regulations on the circulation of non-tax cigarettes.
Meanwhile, the circulation of illegal cigarettes in NTT is suspected of having links with a large syndicate that distributes asphalt in the Indonesian territory.
The Indonesian government has been cracking down on the production and distribution of illegal cigarettes in the country. Recently, the Regional Office of the Directorate General of Customs and Excise in Aceh destroyed more than 10.2 million illegal cigarettes, which were found to be sold without proper duty stamps.
According to a survey from indonesiabaik.id, the Ministry of Finance recorded an increase in the circulation of illegal cigarettes by 4.9% throughout 2020, even though the government has targeted the circulation below 3%.
Meanwhile the Indonesian Customs and Excise Directorate stated that they carried out 9,014 enforcement actions against illegal excisable goods, as many as 448.18 million cigarettes worth IDR 270.79 billion were successfully confiscated.
Despite the government’s efforts to clean up illegal cigarettes, sales in several areas failed to be monitored by Customs and Excise and the Police. Sources revealed that the smuggling was carried out by loading and unloading illegal goods in the Manggarai Region at night when the situation was quiet. Then, it is distributed via motorbikes.
Meanwhile, Sitti Rohmi Djalilah, the Deputy Governor of West Nusa Tenggara, stated that she is planning to conduct more massive socializing regarding the rampant circulation of illegal cigarettes because they are detrimental to the state but have the potential to increase novice smokers due to their low prices.