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China Responsible For Up to 80 Percent of All Counterfeit Cigarettes in the EU

Article en anglais

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2009 China leads the world in contraband tobacco production, and is responsible for up to 80 percent of all counterfeit cigarettes in the European Union, according to a new report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.

As delegates from nearly 160 countries meet in Geneva this week to negotiate a global protocol to crack down on tobacco smuggling, the new ICIJ series also reveals that terrorist groups are increasingly turning to cigarette smuggling for financing. At least a half-dozen terrorist groups rely on tobacco black markets, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Real IRA, and the Colombian FARC, the project reports.
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.


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