Stamping out the illicit trade in cigarettes won’t happen overnight and requires coordinated and committed action by the public and private sectors on a continuous basis. Local and international cooperation involving governments, enforcement agencies, manufacturers,
The first step in tackling illicit trade is understanding the scope of the problem, its origin, and what is driving supply and demand. Reliable research methodologies exist to accomplish this, however, they have not been applied consistently or globally. By taking a more comprehensive approach to collecting data about the illegal tobacco market we can improve understanding of trends, product types, volumes, sources, and destinations.
For example, collecting random samples of empty discarded cigarette packs can be a means for determining proportion of illegal and legal cigarettes being consumed in a specific location. These “empty pack surveys” also help identify the areas within a city or town that are most affected by the black market and, importantly, the likely origin of the illicit products.
Criminal gangs involved in smuggling are quick to respond to enforcement efforts. They change production centers, smuggling routes, and distribution networks in next to no time. For this reason thorough, comprehensive and regular monitoring to identify and anticipate changing trends and patterns is essential.