Hong Kong customs seized 730 million illicit cigarettes in 2022, 76 percent more than in 2021 and the highest annual figure in more than two decades, reports The Standard.
Officers processed 7,148 cases last year, including 3,436 involving cigarette smuggling and 931 involving drug trafficking.
The illicit cigarettes confiscated in 2022 had a market value of HKD2.01 billion ($256.07 million) and a taxable value of around HKD1.4 billion, according to Customs and Excise Commissioner Louise Ho Pui-shan.
Customs officials attributed the spike in illicit cigarettes to the rising tobacco price under inflation.
The increased seizures follow a relaxation of immigration measures in multiple countries after the Covid-19 pandemic, Ho added, noting Customs would recruit 90 inspectors and 170 officers to strengthen the city’s enforcement capability.