In the Indian subcontinent, the demand for foreign cigarettes is increasing at warp speed, owing to which, the incidences of smuggling these commodities to India has increased four folds. At a recent raid at an airport in India, custom officials seized twenty six thousand foreign cigarettes from a passenger. The man was coming from Dubai and his name is Kunjammu Abdul Aziz. Interestingly, the same individual had tried to sneak in thirty two thousand six hundred cigarettes into the country just five months ago. Apparently, this is why he was recognized by the custom officials and then searched thoroughly. Ironically, all these cigarettes belonged to the smuggling category and they were being brought into the country illegally.

At the Karipur Airport, over sixty cases of illegal smuggling have been registered in the past few months. According to Joannes George, the assistant commissioner customs at the airport, “seven cases of smuggling large quantities of illegal cigarettes have been registered in the first 3 months itself.” The biggest haul came in the form of the Gudang Garam brand of international cigarettes, which possessed an aromatic flavor and are manufactured in Indonesia. With over eighty percent of the smuggled cigarettes belonging to this brand, the remainder 20% consisted of brands like Marlboro and 555.

Smokers in India prefer smoking cigarettes which are flavored. The main flavors in demand include clove, cardamom and mint. One of the main reasons why these flavors are in such great demand in the northern areas of India are because people here are of the belief that they would keep them warm in the winters and allow them to remain free from cold and cough. It has also been reported that a pack of Gudang Garam in the northern Indian region costs Rs.1300 during the winter season. Nonetheless, when the same brand is sourced from free ports like Dubai, then it costs below Rs.500.

As per the custom authorities, cigarettes are illegally imported in the form of baggage and at times, in the form of door to door courier services, which in turn are operated from Dubai as well as the United Arab Emirates. It has also been revealed that the smuggling of cigarettes has become an organized crime, ever since the demand for international cigarette brands went up, claims Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence went on to state that smuggling cigarettes to the country has now become a sophisticated trade. In fact, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence claimed that several paid carriers are being hired by smugglers, who make frequent trips within the country and after staying at a particular destination for a day or two, they head back home to smuggle more such goods.

The custom officials are of the opinion that if such crimes are allowed to proceed, they would become rampant and the country would witness an increased influx of cigarettes as well as drugs. Nonetheless, most carriers cannot be jailed as according to the law, such smugglers can only be fined and their goods confiscated. They simply cannot be arrested if the total value of their smuggled goods is less than five lakh rupees. Apparently, owing to this very reason, officials in India are simply unable to put a complete stop to the ongoing smuggling operations pertaining to tobacco cigarettes.