Illicit trade

Tobacco illicit trade, a phenomenon that threatens public health, national economy and urges the cooperation of all relevant parties on the fight against it.

A global problem 

Illicit trade is one of the most threatening economic problems worldwide. Some research indicates that over 456 billion cigarettes a year are illegal, with illicit cigarette trade now estimated to account for 11.2% of the global tobacco market.

Cigarettes are among the most commonly traded products on the black market due to high profit margins, relative ease of production and movement and low detection rates and penalties.

The illegal market of tobacco products does not consist a threat only for tobacco companies but also governments that miss out on revenues, legitimate retailers lose income and consumers get unregulated products for the benefit of smugglers and organized crime.

The phenomenon of illicit trade in Greece

Illicit trade of tobacco products has dramatically increased in Greece and it is likely to increase more if the necessary measures are not taken. Within the last years, illicit trade in our country has experienced a dramatic increase in extremely high levels today (cigarettes and loose tobacco). Recent studies show that more than 2 out of 10 cigarettes consumed in Greece are illicit.

What can be done?

We fully support regulators, governments and international organisations such as the World Customs Organization, the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization and European Union in seeking to eliminate all forms of illicit tobacco trade. We would like to see all our markets free of it.

We see it as vitally important that governments establish workable tax regimes and economic policies that do not create conditions that encourage illicit trade, with strong border controls and effective laws to fight the black market.

What is...

  • Illicit product: Any product which is smuggled, counterfeit, or undeclared local production. Another term used is contraband.
  • Smuggling: The movement of product (either genuine or counterfeit) from one jurisdiction (country, state etc.) or excise regime to another in circumstances where it is unlawful to do so because it is done without payment of the applicable taxes and/or duties in the relevant jurisdiction, or in breach of laws prohibiting its import or export.
  • Undeclared local production: Product which is manufactured and sold for consumption in the same country and which is not declared to the local excise authorities and therefore excise tax is not paid. These products may be manufactured in approved factories, or they may be manufactured in illegal covert operations.
  • Cross-border trade: Genuine product that has been purchased in one country, duty paid or duty free, and then brought into another country and consumed without payment of taxes in that country. This is only illicit trade if the volumes involved are for commercial use or, if for personal use, is in excess of personal allowances.
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