Cigarettes are being exported from Hong Kong to elsewhere in Asia before being smuggled back into the territory, a customs officer said yesterday. The trend was exposed with the seizure of 9.5 million smuggled cigarettes worth $12 million in a container in Cheung Sha Wan, he said. Four men, aged between 21 and 30, were arrested. The consignment was brought from the United States to Hong Kong by a local company and re-exported to China and Japan, said Acting Senior Superintendent Pang Kui-sum of the Customs Prosecution, Intelligence and Investigation Bureau. 'But the goods, declared as PSV resin, were brought back to the territory from Yokohama on Friday. We have reason to believe the cigarettes were for local consumption,' he said. 'It's the second time this year we've detected smugglers using such a complicated route to evade our attention and escape the hefty tax on cigarettes in Hong Kong.'