Since March 1st, smokers will have noticed a steep increase in the price of their cigarettes, though cigarettes distributed before that date at the lower price are still on sale while stocks last. Photo credit: Freepik / For illustrative purposes.

Brno, Mar 3 (BD) – For the last 12 years, the price of a pack of cigarettes in the Czech Republic has risen by an average of three crowns per year. But now a significant tax rise has taken effect, meaning that cigarettes will increase in price by between 10 and 13 crowns, taking the average price of a 20-pack over CZK 100 for the first time.

The new taxes came into force on March 1st, but cigarettes already taxed at the previous rate will still be on sale from retailers while stocks last. In 2019, tobacco taxes raised CZK 56 billion, and the new rate is expected to raise another CZK 9 billion. The government plans to continue raising the tax by 4-5 crowns a year until 2023. 

However, tobacco companies have raised concerns about the size of the tax increase, with reports that smokers with limited financial resources will turn to the black market to buy cigarettes, and that smuggling rings are already preparing to expand their operations in the Czech Republic. The black market already accounts for 7% of cigarettes sold in the Czech Republic. The increase in tax revenues for the government may also be limited by a drop in tourists from Germany and Austria crossing the border to buy cheaper cigarettes, or Czech citizens near the Polish or Slovak borders visiting those countries to pay less per pack.

Another change approaching for smokers is the end of popular menthol cigarettes. Other flavoured cigarettes were banned outright across the EU in 2018, but menthols were given until May 20th, 2020. These measures are mostly intended to make cigarettes less attractive to children.

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