Duty Free Tobacco
In the past, cigarettes were the easiest category for price comparisons. There’s a monolithic brand – Marlboro. It’s available everywhere and representative of cigarette prices in general. Domestic prices are usually fixed and often controlled; and not much discounting goes on domestically.
The high duty also meant you’d generally get a good deal.
However, you find less and less mention of cigarettes online these days. Of the 80 some-odd airports I looked at, only 11 showed cigarettes online. I managed to get prices directly from 8 others. Moreover, since I compiled these prices in October, DFA, the retailer at JFK Terminal 7, and MyDutyFree, which operates stores in Kiev, Minsk, and Moscow Domodedovo, have all removed cigarettes from their online presentation.
Based on that information from my October survey, this chart is still a valid price comparison, ranked by Domestic prices per 200 carton.
If you live in the more expensive localities I’ve marked in red, Duty Free is a good deal everywhere. Conversely, if you live in the four cheapest countries (in blue), don’t bother. You’re better off taking your cigarettes from home, and if you’re a visitor, you’re better off buying locally.
In the middle priced locations, it varies. Leaving home is generally a good deal, but on the way back, it depends on where you’ve been. For example, if you live in Germany, Denmark, or Miami, every airport other than Sydney and Toronto is cheaper. But if you live in a lower price country like Dubai, the Czech Republic, or Japan you need to be more careful.
As with spirits, you can buy Duty Free cigarettes on arrival at some airports, but don’t buy them going into Australia or Singapore. See the section Customs Allowances Around the World.)
Also like spirits, airlines carry only a limited range of cigarettes. It’s usually Marlboro and maybe a couple of other brands. Since very few airlines show cigarettes on their websites, you’ll have to do your research on board. Here are the ones that do publish cigarette prices:
Generally speaking, airline prices are a fair bit cheaper than at airports.
Cigars, the other part of the Duty Free tobacco category, are even more difficult to find online than cigarettes
By far the greatest place for Duty Free cigars is La Casa del Habano. The choice is incredible, the prices are terrific – and they’re published on their website. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s more of an experience than a cigar store.
Otherwise, the best online presentations I’ve found are Heinemann Duty Free at Frankfurt Airport and JR Duty Free at Tel Aviv Airport. Copenhagen Duty Free and Heinemann Duty Free at Oslo aren’t too bad. Heinemann at Sydney shows a small range.
Geneva has a nice walk-in humidor, with a good cigar selection, particularly of Davidoffs. That’s not surprising since Davidoff is based in Geneva.
Explanatory notes:Read More
All the Duty Free prices mentioned here were observed on the internet or collected directly during August/September 2018.
The Domestic cigarette prices are from the Numbeo Marlboro price ranking website, except for New York and Florida which come from the price rankings by state, both of which I explain in the Destination Prices & Sales Taxes section.
Exchange rates were taken from the XE exchange website on September 24, 2018.