Customs in the port of Durres on Wednesday sequestered a container with contraband cigarettes coming from Singapore with an estimated value of €500,000.Media reports said customs agents became suspicious about the cargo after the company that had ordered the shipment failed to carry out customs procedures for several days.
Inside the container customs officials found 941 cartons of cigarettes. Had they entered the local market the authorities would have lost tax revenues worth about €250,000.
Although the net value of tobacco imports in Albania has increased in the past five years, their quantity has fluctuated from year to year, depending of the quantity of contraband cigarettes entering the local market.
Often perceived as a luxury item, contraband cigarettes are regularly sold in Albania at a premium price, owing to a public perception that they are higher quality than legally imported and traded tobacco.
Despite this popular faith in the quality of contraband cigarettes, health experts warn that, as there is no way to measure the level of nicotine contained in them, use of them might have untold costs for public health.