Estimating the Size of the Illicit Cigarette Market in Sri Lanka

An evidence-based assessment of illicit cigarette and beedi consumption trends in Sri Lanka is needed to convince policymakers to implement effective taxation policies on cigarettes. Sri Lanka is in its last-mile stage of reducing tobacco prevalence and raising tobacco taxes is the most effective way of doing so, as per WHO FCTC recommendations. As such, tackling myths around illicit tobacco trade that obstruct the raising of tobacco taxes – which have both health and fiscal benefits – is the overarching objective of this research. In order to do so, the study (1) estimates the illicit cigarette market share to provide evidence on whether tobacco lobby estimates are exaggerated and (2) analyses beedi consumption trends using reliable and nationally representative data, to shed light on whether its consumption has spiked due to high taxes on cigarettes.

Research team

Nisha Arunatilake
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Harini Weerasekara
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Cancer Research UK / KIVU International