|Vinh Long Province market management officials destroy illegally-imported cigarettes seized from last September to January this year. PM Nguyen Tan Dung has reviewed the progress made in the six months since the introduction of a new cigarette smuggling decree — VNA/VNS Photo Huynh Kim Phuong
HA NOI (VNS)— Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reviewed progress made in the six months since the introduction of a new cigarette smuggling decree during an online meeting late Thursday with 11 cities and provinces.
Police, market watch forces, border patrol and other agencies stopped 5,400 cigarette-smuggling groups, confiscated 5.2 million packs of cigarettes and prosecuted 108 cases involving 176 individuals. In addition, they seized 1,400 motorbikes, 22 high-speed boats and 31 cars used in smuggling.
Reports by anti-smuggling forces showed illegal import operations were getting more complicated. Smugglers devised various plans to avoid being caught. They changed their routes and hours regularly, and sent out scouts to keep an eye on police. Faced with tightened controls at land borders, smugglers have started transporting their goods by sea.
They have even approached police, pressuring them into returning their confiscated cigarettes and imprisoned accomplices.
Viet Nam Tobacco Association President Vu Van Cuong told local authorities to work on deterring people from buying smuggled cigarettes.
"Just by banning the public sale of smuggled cigarettes, we'll reduce their market circulation by 30 to 50 per cent," he said.
Cuong also urged lawmakers to make amendments to current laws and regulations to allow criminal charges to be pressed against individuals who transported or sold more than 500 packs of smuggled cigarettes.
PM Dung ordered local authorities to co-ordinate their efforts to curb the crime. They needed to capture ring-leaders and severely punish those involved. In addition, the PM stressed the importance of disseminating information on the national anti-smuggling effort to secure the people's support and co-operation. The Government also needed to increase awareness about the adverse effects of smoking.
He urged domestic cigarette companies to take measures to improve their quality and health safety standards to help cut down demand for foreign-made cigarettes. — VNS