The Mongolian Parliament increased the import duty on tobacco products by 30% on 1 May 2017 and increased the tobacco excise tax by 10% on 1 January 2018. The University of Cape Town based project Research on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP) undertook a study to measure changes in tobacco tax evasion after the tax increase by calculating the extent of illicit cigarette sales before and after these tax increases. The method used was to collect discarded cigarette packages before and after the tax increase in selected Mongolian cities and analyse the information provided on these packages. A cigarette pack was identified as illicit if it had no excise tax stamp. Discarded cigarette packs were collected in the capital city (Ulaanbaatar) and in two provinces with international borders, Dornod (bordering with China) and Bayan Ulgii (bordering with Russia). Packs were also inspected for pictorial health warnings to assess if manufacturers were complying with the pictorial health warning laws. Collection for Round 1 happened in April 2017, round 2 in September 2017 and round 3 in April 2018. 7494 packs were collected before the tax increases and 5852 packs were collected after the tax increases. Cigarettes without tax stamp were shown to have been produced in Mongolia, but also in Korea, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.
Kind of Data
Unit of Analysis
v1: Edited data for public distribution
Data was collected from information on discarded cigarette packs collected in Mongolia, and included cigarette brand, existence of a tax stamp and health warning, manufacturer, and country of origin.
The study covered the capital city of Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar) and cities in two provinces with international borders, Dornod (bordering with China) and Bayan Ulgii (bordering with Russia).
The lowest level of geographic aggregation covered by the data is city
Producers and sponsors
Research on the Economics of Excisable Products
University of Cape Town
National Cancer Council of Mongolia
Cancer Research UK
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The study used information on cigarette packs discarded before and after the tax increases to estimate the extent of the illicit cigarette trade in Mongolia. Discarded cigarette packs were collected across 3 rounds of data collection in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and in 2 provinces with international borders: Dornod, on the border with China, and Bayan Ulgii, bordering with Russia and close to Kazakhstan. In Ulaanbaatar districts are divided into khoroos, and the provinces are divided into baghs. The starting point for pack collection in each khoroo/bagh was the same in all rounds. Packs were collected from the ground or from the top of waste bins. The collection team had a the quota of 80 packs in an area. Once they had reached this quota they continued to another starting point in the same khoroo/bagh.
University of Cape Town
Public use files, available to all
Research on the Economics of Excisable Products. Mongolia Illicit Cigarette Data 2017-2018 [dataset]. Version 1. Cape Town: Research on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP); Ulaanbaatar: National Cancer Council of Mongolia [producers], 2019. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/cd03-3229