Cigarette sales in Germany are at their lowest level ever though taxes are not taking the hit, new figures released on Monday by The Federal Statistics Bureau of Germany, Destatis, has just released data that shows that the decline in cigarettes sales in Germany is a trend that appears irreversible, since the total number of legal cigarettes being sold, i.e. the number of cigarettes on which tax was paid, fell to a record low number of just 79.5 billion cigarettes.
What is interesting however is that although this is indeed a very low volume of cigarettes sold, since in 1991 the figure was nearly double, standing at 146.5 billion cigarettes being sold back then, the taxes the government has received from the sales of cigarettes stood at €20.5 billion for 2014, while in 1991 with double the consumption the net for government coffers was only €15.9 billion in taxes.
Obviously, this difference is attributed to the fact that the tax percentage is much higher nowadays, especially since cigarettes and fine-cut tobacco saw an increase in the tax imposed on them for a second consecutive year, on 1st January 2014 and again on 1st January 2015.
Despite the fact that some will argue that the fall in the number of legal cigarettes being sold is a result of the increasing number of Germans who decide to quit smoking, the more astute observers point out that this not necessarily so. Indeed, may point out that smokers often resort to buying single cigarettes, or contraband cigarettes or cigarettes from other supply sources for which no tax is being paid.
Moreover, even if cigarette consumption is indeed falling this is not true for other tobacco products, which might indicate that smokers are merely switching preferences. Also aided by the fact that the newly imposed taxes did not affect the prices of other tobacco products, cigars, cigarillos and pipe smoking is on the increase. In fact, cigar and cigarillo sales reached 3.9 billion in 2014, recording an increase of 8.4%, while with a total of 1,359 tonnes being sold in 2014, the sales of pipe tobacco rose by 13.2%, a truly noteworthy figure.