Tobacco Products

Tobacco Products

The trade of illegal tobacco includes various criminal phenomena that occur in the various forms of smuggling.

Basically, there is the smuggling of genuine tobacco products and the smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes.

In this market sector, the European Antifraud Office (OLAF) estimates a financial loss, for the budgets of the European Union and Member States, of more than 10 billion euros.

In particular, the manufacture and sale of counterfeit tobacco products is certainly among the most profitable activities linked to the “counterfeit industry”.

Indeed, cigarettes can be easily transported, have no other storage burdens and, most of all, they require small production costs compared to their sales prices, which are high due to taxation.

sequestro sigarette

This is another reason why counterfeit cigarette smugglers are concentrated prevalently in countries in which the original product is highly taxed, and so it carries a higher final price, as consumers are mostly attracted by the cost of the counterfeit product. (see chart below showing the counterfeit tobacco products seized at the European borders – in kgs).


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Source: European Commission 

The more profits this activity generates for criminal organizations, the higher is the damage for the finances of the States.
In 2011, the Italian revenues from tobacco products allowed the State finances to receive approximately 14 billion euros (CENSIS data – October 2011).

On the other hand, the tobacco counterfeiting alone has caused a revenue loss equal to almost 70 million euros (NOMISMA REPORT 2011).

The illegal trade of tobacco is not only an economic issue; it also involves, for example, the many health problems affecting, in particular, the weaker part of society, such as youngsters and low income families. 

The production of counterfeit cigarettes takes place mainly in South-east Asia: according to the latest report of the European Commission, in the last 5 years, an average of 43% of the fake cigarettes seized at the EU borders is from China (see chart below on the origin of the counterfeit cigarettes seized at the European borders).

Source: European Commission 

 

As from 2008, the Units of the Corps have seized approximately  200 tons of counterfeit cigarettes (including the 11 tons seized by the GdF Group in Gioia Tauro in August 2013) which, as mentioned before, were found to be dangerous for people’s health. 
As a matter of fact, the laboratory analysis completed on the products that were taken away from the market indicated the presence of extremely high percentages of tar, lead and arsenic, as well as sand and other materials that are extremely dangerous for consumers.

 

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For more information:

- Relazione sulla contraffazione nel settore del tabacco - COMMISSIONE PARLAMENTARE DI INCHIESTA SUI FENOMENI DELLA CONTRAFFAZIONE E DELLA PIRATERIA IN CAMPO COMMERCIALE - XVI LEGISLATURA

- Come riconosce i prodotti contraffatti - approfondimento YAHOO! Finanza