Illegal cigarette sales launch inquiry - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Illegal cigarette sales launch inquiry

by Nick Delgado

Guam - It's been about a year since the cost of cigarettes went up, and evidently not only has there been a rise in taxes - there's been a rise in the smuggling of illegal cigarettes into Guam. KUAM News visited two stores in Dededo today that admitted to importing cigarettes from the Philippines.

At Valencia's we found illegal cigarettes - Valencia's is still selling the very illegal merchandise that they'd been warned about for months. Smokes that clearly state "Made in the Philippines- for domestic sale only and not for export". 

And not too far away at DLA Feed Store, the cashier admits they too sell these same products for half the price a pack of cigarettes is supposed to be sold for.

While the cashier said they were out of stock at the time, they were readily for sale at Valencia's. When the cashier was asked she was aware that they are illegal to be sold here," the cashier said, "I don't want to comment on that." Inquiring further, the person said, "Please get off my property."

Guam Customs and Quarantine Spokesperson Lieutenant Ferdinand Soriano confirms they are investigating DLA and Valencia's. He explained that it gets to the island "through our basic ports of entry; there is only so many ports that it can enter...it'll come in through accompany baggage, carry-on baggage through the cargo office through whatever palletized cargo it may be smuggled in."

Like Guam Customs, the illegal importation of these items is a concern for Department of Revenue & Taxation director John Camacho. He admits this has become more and more of a problem since the tobacco tax was increased last year making a pack of cigarettes cost an additional $3 each, saying, "The fact that cigarettes are very expensive, I guess retailers or any establishment have been bringing in tobacco products that are illegal so in expense when we do get a complaint from a customer or the public at large we do an investigation."

Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz has introduced legislation he hopes will provide resources to Guam Customs to help crack down on the importation of these cheaper and illegal cigarettes. You can read his Bill 146 at GuamLegislature.com.

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