Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Manufacturer information will be stitched in every pack of cigarettes

Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director, WHO Tobacco Free Initiative
Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director, WHO Tobacco Free Initiative

23 November 2012 -- Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director, WHO Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI), told "" about an analogue of a Government Automated Information System (EGAIS) for cigarettes, to combat illicit trade in Kenya and the role of tobacco corporations in the development of tobacco control laws. On November 2012, more than 140 countries, that are WHO member states adopted a Protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products. What was the reason as each of these countries declares this on the national level?

Dr Bettcher: The effort is not enough. The number of smokers is increasing globally, including through illicit cigarettes. Illicit production increases the availability of tobacco products, as smugglers do not pay excise and can offer cheaper cigarettes. The number of deaths related to smoking, reaches 5.3 million people annually in the world.

If you do not strengthen the fight against smoking, then, WHO predicts that by 2030 tobacco dependence directly or indirectly will cause 8 million deaths worldwide annually. Another 600 000 lives takes second-hand tobacco smoke. Nearly half of all children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, and more than 40% of children have at least one parent who smokes. What is the estimate of illicit cigarettes market?

Dr Bettcher: For obvious reasons, reliable data does not exist. Estimated circulation of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes in the world is about 600 billion cigarettes annually, which is about 10% of the world cigarette market. What is WHO’s estimate of budget losses from the illegal trade in cigarettes?:

Dr Bettcher: Globally, the tax loss from the sale of illegal cigarettes reaches $ 50 billion per year. Which countries are the champions in the production and sale of illegal tobacco products?

Dr Bettcher: China. In 2006-2009 in China (according to the Border Service of the Ministry of Public Security of China) 3279 million boxes of counterfeit cigarettes (one box contains 50 units) were confiscated. In 2010, 12,719 boxes were impounded. Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine are also making a contribution. Will Protocol change anything?

Dr Bettcher: The purpose of the protocol is to agree on mechanisms to counter illegal distribution of tobacco in the world. Production and sale of tobacco products should be licensed in all the countries without any exceptions. A global system of identification of tobacco products should be created. It is also crucial to tighten control over the production and supply chain of tobacco products on a global scale, over the production of equipment which produces cigarettes, and to increase penalties for violating the law, to establish legal assistance.

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