Illicit Tobacco Trade in Ethiopia

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Illicit cigarette trade is most prevalent in regions bordering Somalia and other points of entry due to porous borders and weak customs enforcement.

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Increasing cigarette taxes does not lead to an increase in illicit trade.

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A Track and Trace system is one of the most effective ways to control illicit trade as it improves the traceability of products along the value chain.

Illicit tobacco trade refers to the production, import, export, distribution, purchase, sale, or possession of a tobacco product in contravention of the law. This trade also includes the sale of smuggled genuine or counterfeit cigarettes.

This document provides information on the prevalence of an illicit cigarette trade in Ethiopia, the various types of the illicit tobacco trade in relation to points of entry, and the different cigarette brands. It also highlights and addresses some of the myths promulgated by the tobacco industry, methods to reduce illicit trade, and success stories from other countries that have curtailed illicit cigarette trade. 

According to a survey done in 2018 under the auspices of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), it was found that 18.9% of the cigarettes sold were illicit. The study employed a cross-sectional observational study of empty packs that were obtained from two types of retailers (kiosks and street vendors) and from the streets in ten towns representing ten regional states and two autonomous cities.

Further analysis and weighting was done based on this research and illicit cigarette trade made up an estimated 45% of the overall cigarette market in Ethiopia in 2018.

Prevalence of Illicit Tobacco Products in Ethiopia Urban Areas

  • Illicit Tobacco Prevalence Rate|
  • Low (0-5%)
  • Moderate (6-10%)
  • High (11-100%)