Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

Study reveals scale of cigarette smuggling from Belarus to Lithuania

By Maryna Nosava, BelaPAN

Up to a third of all cigarettes sold in Lithuania are smuggled from abroad and 75 percent of cigarettes that are illegally supplied across the country's border are made in Belarus, according to a study conducted in the second quarter of this year.

Experts representing market research company Nielsen studied more than 5,800 discarded cigarette packs in 20 Lithuanian cities. No research was done in rural areas, according to the BNS news agency.

The scale of cigarette smuggling into Lithuania is Europe's second-largest, said Laurynas Bucalis of Philip Morris Baltic.

The study suggested that most of the Belarusian cigarettes smuggled into Lithuania were made by Nyoman Hrodna Tobacco Factory.

The Lithuanian budget is expected to lose more than $120 million as a result of cigarette smuggling this year.

Experts warn that the share of smuggled cigarettes in the Lithuanian market may further increase if the European Commission moves ahead with its plans to ban slim and menthol cigarettes in the European Union. If such cigarettes are banned, an estimated 77 percent of Lithuania's smokers are expected to start buying such cigarettes smuggled from abroad.

In 2010, the share of smuggled cigarettes in the Lithuanian market was more than 40 percent.