Objective: To evaluate the common industry claim
that higher tobacco taxation leads to higher levels of
smuggling, particularly in a limited state capacity setting.
Design: This paper evaluates the effects of a tobacco
tax increase in Sierra Leone on smuggling by using gap
analyses. Its models are based on multiple rounds of the
Demographic and Health Survey and customs data as
well as newly collected data on cigarette prices.
Results: The paper shows that despite a substantial
increase in cigarette taxation, and despite the absence
of other formal tobacco control policies, smuggling has
not increased in Sierra Leone. Its primary model shows
a decrease in cigarette smuggling by 16.74% following
the tax increase, alongside a decrease in cigarette
consumption more widely and an increase in tax revenue.
Conclusions: By presenting a low income and lower enforcement capacity case study, this paper provides
novel and critical evidence to the debate on the taxsmuggling link. Furthermore, it points to new questions
on how states in these contexts can limit cigarette smuggling.