Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Case studies in international tobacco surveillance: cigarette smuggling in Brazil
  1. O Shafey1,
  2. V Cokkinides1,
  3. T M Cavalcante2,
  4. M Teixeira2,
  5. C Vianna2,
  6. M Thun1
  1. 1Epidemiology and Surveillance Research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2National Tobacco Control Program, National Cancer Institute (INCA), Health Ministry of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to:
 Omar Shafey, PhD, International Tobacco Surveillance, American Cancer Society, 1599 Clifton Rd. NE, 4th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30329-4251, USA;


Objective: This article is the first in a series of international case studies developed by the American Cancer Society to illustrate use of publicly available surveillance data for regional tobacco control.

Design: A descriptive analysis of Brazil and Paraguay cigarette production and trade data from official sources.

Methods: Per capita cigarette consumption for Brazil and its neighbour was calculated from 1970 to 1998 using data on production, imports, and exports from NATIONS, the National Tobacco Information Online System.

Results: A 63% decrease was observed in the estimate of per capita consumption of cigarettes in Brazil between 1986 and 1998 (from 1913 cigarettes per person in 1986 to 714 cigarettes per person in 1998) and a 16-fold increase in Paraguay was observed during the same period (from 678 cigarettes per person in 1986 to 10 929 cigarettes per person in 1998). Following Brazil's 1999 passage of a 150% cigarette export tax, cigarette exports fell 89% and Brazil's estimated per capita consumption rose to 1990 levels (based on preliminary data). Per capita consumption in Paraguay also fell to 1990 levels.

Conclusions: These trends coincide with local evidence that large volumes of cigarettes manufactured in Brazil for export to Paraguay are smuggled back and consumed as tax-free contraband in Brazil. It is hoped that this case study will draw wider public attention to the problems that smuggling presents for tobacco control, help identify other countries confronting similar issues, and stimulate effective interventions.

  • smuggling
  • Brazil
  • tobacco surveillance

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • * NATIONS, the National Tobacco Information Online System, is a joint project of the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the American Cancer Society, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to integrate electronically international tobacco surveillance data. Available from: URL:

  • MERCOSUL, the “Southern Common Market”, is a regional customs union between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay established following the Treaty of Asuncion, signed on 26 March 1991. “Four-plus-one” free trade agreements between the MERCOSUL countries and Chile and Bolivia took effect 1 October 1996, and 1 April 1997, respectively. MERCOSUL is currently negotiating association arrangements with other Andean countries and with Mexico, and MERCOSUL members are participating as one body in negotiations over a free trade area of the Americas. MERCOSUL's goal is the elimination of customs duties and non-tariff restrictions on the movement of goods between member states, the adoption of a common strategy for external trade, and the coordination of macroeconomic policies. URL: