Fake cigarettes will not be allowed to retail

#industry news

The production and turnover of tobacco products are wanted to be controlled as strictly as alcohol: issue licenses, mark them to monitor the movement of each pack and punish those who produce fakes. The government submitted a package of bills on this to the State Duma on March 9. According to experts interviewed by the Parliamentary Newspaper, smoking will not rise in price after the innovations, and the budget will receive additional income.

Sell — only in packs

According to the estimates of the Accounting Chamber, from 2016 to 2021, the federal budget missed about 300 billion rubles from illegal tobacco trafficking. State regulation of the tobacco market has been discussed for a long time. The Ministry of Finance, which developed the bill, proposed to take the already established alcohol control system as a model. The document was submitted to the Government in July last year. The production and import of tobacco, nicotine—containing products and raw materials for them will have to be licensed, and the equipment will have to be registered. If the machine is not used, it needs to be preserved, and if it is proved that counterfeit was stamped on it, then the equipment will be withdrawn.

The Chestny Znak marking system will allow monitoring the movement of manufactured and imported tobacco products, comparing the volumes of imports and national output with sales. In addition, the law will prohibit the sale of cigarettes not in a pack.

Amendments are planned to be made to the Code of Administrative Offences and the Criminal Code. Responsibility for the illegal release and sale of tobacco is equated to a similar crime with alcohol: production and sale without a license — imprisonment for up to three years, and as part of an organized group or on a particularly large scale — up to five years.

You can't buy it for fifty

The Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Rospotrebnadzor, tax and customs services are now endowed with separate functions of regulating the tobacco market. And too many cooks spoil the broth, Sergei Ryabukhin, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Budget and Financial Markets, reminded the Parliamentary Newspaper. Parliamentarians, according to him, have long insisted on the development of a law and the creation of a single center of responsibility for the tobacco market.

There are two types of cigarette counterfeit: these are ordinary factory packs with goods of normal quality, but removed from excise duty, and "tobacco dust", which is packed at enterprises between shifts. Both are bad. "The losses are huge: up to a hundred billion rubles are lost annually by the budget,- Ryabukhin said. - According to some reports, every tenth pack of cigarettes in Russia is illegal. And if we are talking about the sale of low-quality goods, then the consumer suffers from this."

Tobacco products are excisable goods, the rate of this excise duty is set by the state, which means that cigarettes will not rise in price when the law is passed, Sergei Ryabukhin explained. "Of course, it will no longer be possible to buy a pack for fifty at the collapse, but everyone will only benefit from this," the senator is sure.

Fakes will not disappear immediately

Official Russian tobacco manufacturers suffer greatly from counterfeiting, therefore they support the proposed market regulation. Andrey Loskutov, head of the Association of Tobacco and Nicotine-containing Products Market Participants, told the Parliamentary Newspaper about it. According to experts, the share of counterfeit goods has increased almost 12 times in recent years — from 1.1 percent in 2015 to 12.9 percent in the second half of 2022.

"We are glad that the state is moving from a prohibitive position to constructive regulation and control,-Loskutov said. — Of course, it will not be possible to solve all the problems at once, because there are those in the alcohol market who are trying to deceive the system, getting around unified state automated information system. But still, the volume of counterfeit is much less than without control."

The volume of illegal tobacco decreased by seven percent in 2020, when borders were closed due to the coronavirus and sales channels were reduced. A significant part of the tobacco comes to Russia from abroad and today, the efforts of the state are aimed at solving this problem, Sergei Ryabukhin noted: "This year Belarus will establish approximately equivalent to Russian excise taxes on tobacco, which will make it less profitable to distill huge unregistered batches of cigarettes into our country. In general, an agreement has been reached at the state level to harmonize excise rates with neighboring countries by 2024."

The Federal Customs Service has established norms for the import of products from the Eurasian Economic Union for personal use. You can bring no more than 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco to Russia.