Couple of weeks ago, I took part in a EurActiv Stakeholder Workshop, endorsed by the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU, in which we had the opportunity to talk about the illicit trade of tobacco.
At the event, there was a strong call for greater action towards fighting this crime to protect citizens from the dangers and negative consequences of the black cigarette market.
According to KPMG’s 2015 SUN Report, the illegal tobacco trade in EU accounts to more than 56.6 billion cigarettes, which means that every 1 in 10 cigarettes smoked in Europe are illegal. Aside from the risks to consumers from purchasing illicit and unlicensed cigarettes, the impact on European tax revenues are substantial, at an estimated €11.3 billion a year.
Let’s face facts: smuggled cigarettes are bad for society. It is no secret that this trade fuels organized crime, and experts in the area warn about the links between illicit tobacco trade and the funding of terrorist activities. This is then a serious threat to national security that must be recognized and tackled head on.
Philip Morris International is taking a leading role in this fight. We have put in place internal policies to secure our supply chain and to protect our brands, and we continue to work in partnership with law enforcement agencies in countries worldwide, investing in education and training of public officers in charge of monitoring this issue, and raising general awareness about this serious crime.
Shining a spotlight on the problem is a practical step forward in delivering a real solution. Collaborative forces working together will effectively combat illegal trade, and Philip Morris International is ready to take part in global efforts to raise the awareness of the serious threat and fight this crime.
Written by Alvise Giustiniani