Rabat – The penetration rate of contraband cigarettes in the domestic market has reached 5.23% in 2019. At a meeting of the National Commission Against Cigarette Smuggling, held on September 12, the commission presented the results of its 6th study on the prevalence of contraband cigarettes.The meeting was held at the headquarters of the Administration of Customs and Indirect Taxes (ADII). According to the study, this rate increased compared to 2018, where it was only 3.73%. However, the rate decreased compared to 5.64% in 2017 and 7.64% in 2016, according to a statement from the ADII.Representatives of the ADII, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Presidency of the Public Ministry, the Directorate General of National Security (DGSN), and the Gendarmerie Royal, all attended the meeting.The meeting was “an opportunity to open a debate about the evolution of cigarette smuggling and joint measures to put in place to counteract this phenomenon,” concludes the statement.ADII measures to fight against contrabandA 2010 ADII publication says that in recent years, Moroccan Customs started a process of reforming the control of production and importation of certain goods subject to internal consumption taxes (ICT).“The objective is to prevent fraud and smuggling and improve its results while optimizing its human and material resources through the adoption of less intrusive and more efficient control methods,” says the ADII.Since 2010, the administration has undertaken two major initiatives. The first is the adaptation of a legislative and regulatory system to provide for dematerialized control, and extend it to all the goods concerned (alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages and manufactured tobacco).The second is the establishment of an integrated and secure tax marking system called “Automated Integrated Marking System in Customs” (SAMID). The new tax marking system can be used in real-time and remotely on both locally produced products and those imported.After the 2019 Finance Bill established an increase in the domestic consumption tax on certain cigarette brands. The new prices of cigarettes came into effect on January 1.Marlboro is now sold for MAD 35 instead of MAD 32 and Marquise for MAD 21.5 instead of MAD 20.While the Moroccan Company of Tobacco (SMT) agreed to support the government’s decision to increase the tax on cigarettes, some tobacco companies in Morocco reportedly doubted the seriousness of the 2019 Finance Bill.The tobacco companies predicted that the tax increase will aid in creating a market for smuggled tobacco.