Illicit Trade

Tobacco smuggling undermines one of the most important health policies – that of raising tobacco tax to create a financial incentive not to smoke. Tobacco smuggling costs lives through increased smoking. It has been estimated that about one-third of all internationally traded cigarettes are smuggled (350 billion cigarettes per year), causing billions of pounds of lost government revenue (over £2 billion in the UK alone).

There is considerable evidence that tobacco companies have orchestrated tobacco smuggling for their own commercial interests. As a result of investigations and internal document disclosures, major multinational tobacco companies have been subjected to inquiries and legal action for racketeering. In response to these legal actions, the companies have been required to sign binding agreements with governments to curb the problem.

Tobacco smuggling is an international problem requiring a global response.

Article 15 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requires nations that have ratified the treaty to introduce pack marking and tracking systems to prevent illicit trade. Countries are also required to introduce firm sanctions against those found to be involved, and to share information with other countries on cross-border trade. A protocol on illicit trade was adopted at the 5th Conference of the Parties in November 2012.

Do you have information about tobacco smuggling? Ring 0800 59 5000 (UK) and consult Customs Confidential in complete confidence.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

Illicit tobacco reduces the public health impact of tobacco tax rises and increases demand for tobacco products. March 2017. Download here.                

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HMRC Consultation on Tobacco Illicit Trade Protocol – ASH response

ASH response to HMRC Consultation on Tobacco Illicit Trade Protocol – licensing of equipment and the supply chain.

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lllicit Tobacco: What is the tobacco industry trying to do?

ASH Briefing –  Illicit Tobacco: What is the tobacco industry trying to do? Produced for World No Tobacco Day, May 2015, the briefing reports on the tobacco industry’s conflicting positions on the illicit trade.

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ASH response to HMRC consultation on the control of raw tobacco

ASH response to a HM Revenue & Customs consultation on the control of raw tobacco.

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Consultation on anti-forestalling restrictions on tobacco products

ASH’s response to a consultation on anti-forestalling restrictions on tobacco products.

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Cost Benefit Analysis of the FCTC Protocol on Illicit Trade in tobacco products.

This report assesses the likely costs and benefits of implementing the Illicit Trade Protocol in the UK. A report prepared by Paul Johnson for ASH.  2009

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