The sale of smuggled cigarettes in Spain has soared since the government raised the tax rate on tobacco, a spokesman for Franco-Spanish tobacco producer Altadis said Monday.
The company estimates smuggled cigarettes accounted for around six percent of Spain's total cigarette consumption during the first three months of the year, compared to just one percent in all of 2010, the spokesman said.
The problem is especially high in the southwestern region of Andalusia as a significant amount of smuggled cigarettes enter Spain from the nearby British territory of Gibraltar, he added.
The prices of cigarettes in Spain have risen by around 40 percent since June 2009 due to a series of tax hikes, with a packet of Marlboro now costing 4.25 euros ($6.04) from 3.10 euros.
Altadis is a unit of Britain's Imperial Tobacco Group, Europe's second-biggest tobacco company.
Imperial Tobacco makes Davidoff, West, Drum, Golden Virginia and Lambert & Butler cigarettes while Altadis manufactures Fortune, Gitanes and Ducados.
© 2011 AFP
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