Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Smuggling

Action against smuggling is key to any strategy for tobacco control. Effective measures to control smuggling include prominent tax stamps and local-language warnings on cigarette packs, as well as aggressive enforcement of anti-smuggling legislation and consistent application of penalties to deter smugglers. Through these tight controls on smuggling, governments can improve revenue yields from tobacco tax increases.

The tobacco industry has argued that discrepancies in tobacco prices between countries create an incentive to smuggle. However, the determinants of smuggling involve much more than price alone. Using standard indicators of corruption levels based on Transparency International's Index of Countries, the World Bank concluded that, with notable exceptions, the level of tobacco smuggling tends to rise in line with the degree of corruption in a country, independent of the price of tobacco. The World Bank also noted that the tobacco industry itself benefits from smuggling, as it lowers the price paid in average by the consumer, increasing consumption and thus, tobacco sales.

Related resources

Co-Chairpersons’ Report of the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ILLICIT TOBACCO TRADE, United Nations, New York City, July 30 – August 1, 2002:

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