ICIJ's new report also reveals how multinational tobacco companies in Ukraine import and produce 30 billion excess cigarettes worth $2 billion on the black market which are then smuggled across Europe.
In addition to fueling corruption, organized crime, and terrorism, the illicit trafficking of tobacco robs governments of needed tax money and spurs addiction to a deadly product, according to the ICIJ report.
Experts believe that smuggled cigarettes either untaxed legitimate brands or counterfeits account for 12 percent of all cigarette sales, or about 657 billion sticks annually, making tobacco the world's most widely smuggled legal substance. The cost to governments worldwide is massive: an estimated $40 billion to $50 billion in lost tax revenue each year.
The new report is part of Tobacco Underground, a year-long investigation by ICIJ into cigarette smuggling featuring interactive maps, undercover video, online interviews with experts, and links to groups and documents worldwide.