Everybody Loves Ramen: 2 million cigarettes disguised as cup noodle shipment seized by customs

The Great Wall of Cigarettes (ft. a few boxes of face masks and some disinfectant, because 2020). Photo: Hong Kong Customs
The Great Wall of Cigarettes (ft. a few boxes of face masks and some disinfectant, because 2020). Photo: Hong Kong Customs

Some say that an unhealthy diet is just as bad for you as cigarettes — but it turns out only one of those things will land you in jail.

The Customs and Excise Department announced in a press release today that a 48-year-old woman and 30-year-old man were arrested over an illegal shipment of 2.2 million cigarettes disguised as cup noodles. The seaborne shipment, which was sent from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, was intercepted by customs officers when it arrived in Hong Kong yesterday.

When officials inspected the box, they found a stash of 2.2 million cigarettes hidden underneath a top layer of instant ramen packages.

Honestly, that sounds like the dream of every chain-smoking university student with a kettle. But we digress.

From Saturday to yesterday alone, Customs seized a total of around 2.36 million illicit cigarettes and around 30,000 suspected heat-not-burn tobacco products with an estimated market value of HKD6.6 million and a potential tax value of HKD4.5 million.

Since the beginning of the year, Customs has already seized over 66 million suspected illicit cigarettes. Just to put that in perspective, they only seized 55 million illicit cigarettes over the entirety of 2019. In fact, the number of illicit cigarettes seized in 2020 so far has already exceeded the annual seizure figure of 2016, 2017, and 2018 too.

We’re not entirely sure why the number of illegal cigarette shipments has gone up so much — perhaps smugglers are expecting more Hongkongers to start stress-smoking, what with the political unrest, COVID-19, and our ridiculous real estate market. Eh, who knows. Just don’t come for our instant noodles.

Related stories:

Police seize 580kg of cannabis buds, making largest weed bust in Hong Kong history

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