Cigarettes volume sales continued to decline in Belgium in 2021. The Belgian government increased the excise tax on cigarettes in 2021.
While the smoking prevalence is declining in the country, regular smokers have increased their cigarette consumption since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home has made it easier for people to smoke more often than when at the office, and periods of stress or boredom often lead to increased consumption of cigarettes.
The illicit trading of cigarettes grew again in Belgium in 2021. Indeed, the plain packaging law is making cigarettes easier and cheaper to copy, although Belgian authorities did succeed in dismantling quite a few counterfeiting factories and logistic centres in the country toward the end of the review period.
Demand for cigarettes is expected to continue to decline in the forecast period, for several reasons. Firstly, the Belgian government plans to increase taxes again on cigarettes for three consecutive years, impacting negatively the cross-border market.
Illicit trade in cigarettes is expected to keep growing until 2023-2024 because of increases in the legal price of cigarettes. Until the Belgian economy and consumers’ purchasing power recover sufficiently from the effects of the pandemic on jobs and disposable income, many smokers will deem the legal cost of their habit too prohibitive.
Although habitual smokers tend to prioritise smoking in their budgets, disposable incomes will inevitably be constrained as the country recovers from the economic impact of COVID-19 and the rising inflation places a downwards pressure on consumer purchasing power. This will lead some smokers to continue to favour lower-priced brands, leading to limited growth in the average unit price over the forecast period.
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RETAIL SALES OF DUTY PAID CIGARETTES The definition of cigarettes for the purposes of this study is duty-paid, machine manufactured white-stick products. This does not exclude brands of cigarettes that do not use white paper but it is designed to exclude the volume of non-machine manufactured products such as bidis/beedis (India) and papirosy (Russia), and other smoking products made with tobacco but that either do not resemble cigarettes as recognised in the US or Europe, or those that are not machine manufactured. The exclusion of these products is intended to give a more accurate picture of the "true" market for cigarettes and cigars which has been distorted in official statistics and published reports because of the inclusion of hybrid products. NB Please note that due to its central importance and integration into the industry mainstream, Indonesia’s market data does include hand-rolled kreteks DUTY-FREE sales are excluded from retail sales, as are herbal cigarettes. ILLICIT TRADE CIGARETTES Not included in retail sales, but split out separately in volume terms only. Defined as non-duty paid cigarettes (includes smuggled & counterfeit/fake products combined). Legitimate cross-border sales are considered duty-paid. Sales arising from a foreign national purchasing cheaper cigarettes in bulk in a neighbouring country for personal use and exported back are attributed to the country where the purchase is made (e.g. bulk cigarette sales by British nationals in France are attributed to France).See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Cigarettes research and analysis database.
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