Verge of War against Tobacco

Published on February 11th, 2010 12:02
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Tobacco products are one of the most largely smuggled products in the world. Every tenth cigarette sold in EU, has been smuggled. In order to crack down the prospering business in contraband cigarettes from Eastern European and Asian countries, EU officials decided to strengthen the protection of the Union’s eastern borders from the influx of smugglers. Poland is in the vanguard in the movement to turn down the contraband.

EU is also in the process of tightening its security to prevent smuggling. The obstacle against illicit cigarettes will be introduced on the Poland’s borderline with Ukraine and Russia, since the number of smuggled products crossing the border has gone up to record high. In 2009, Polish police agents and customs officers confiscated nearly 800 million smuggled cigarettes, which was 100 million more in comparison to 2008. Though, the amounts of confiscated products seem to be huge, the officials only managed to detain a modest part of bootlegged goods transferred through Poland which has known to be one of the most-used routes from smuggling cigarettes from the East to the West.

Tobacco contraband is highly profitable, since the successful transportation of 100,000 cigarette packs can bring as much as 500,000 euro in profits. Such revenues, made tobacco the most smuggled consumed goods in EU. For the organized criminal groups tobacco brings even more revenues than drugs. Both drugs and tobacco smuggling bring similar revenues, however criminal penalties for cigarette smuggling are a way softer than for drugs traffic. In addition, tobacco black market also has a more indulgent attitude from general public, because people sympathize smokers and their addiction. .

An average cigarette pack can be purchased for only 50 cents in Ukraine, but costs 4 times more after it traverses the Polish border. When it comes to Germany it already costs 10 times more (5 euro) and as much as 8 euros in United Kingdom and Norway.

Such price difference have allowed tobacco contrabandists to give bribes to many people involved in the process of tobacco traffic – proprietors of warehouses, truck drivers, customs officers and even government authorities – who in their turn close their eyes to the transfer of illicit products. As of the present moment, neatly 10 percent of all cigarettes selling across the European Union countries are smuggled into the Union, what results in as much as seven billion euros in lost tax revenues every year. And this number keeps growing.

The only opportunity to crack down tobacco traffic is to detain to inflow of illicit products into the Union, and correct estimation of this problem has triggered large investment in strengthening security at Polish border with Ukraine and Russia. This year, the government of Poland will invest more than 30 million euros in purchasing latest electronic detection equipment, vehicles, professional development trainings for police and customs officers and other things related to border-protection.

The initiative to close Polish border for smugglers has already led to southward move in traffic paths, with more products being transferred through Hungary.

By Joanna Johnson, Staff Writer Copyright © 2010 TobaccoPub. All rights reserved.


Related tags: tobacco | tobacco market | cigarette seller

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