Illicit trade in tobacco products: recent trends and coming challenges

Guillermo Paraje, Michal Stoklosa, Evan Blecher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Illicit trade in tobacco products is a menace to the goal of eliminating tobacco consumption. Although tax policy is very effective in reducing consumption, illicit trade can reduce (though not eliminate) its effectiveness. Methods This article discusses the recent evolution of illicit trade and the context in which it occurred; the new methods that have been developed to measure it and, finally, the challenges in the next phase in the control of illicit trade. Results There has been a remarkable stability in the penetration of cigarette illicit trade in the past decade. Such a stability, however, occurred in a world of shrinking tobacco consumption, implying a decreasing absolute illicit trade. Most countries have progressed in increasing tobacco taxes and changing tax structures. Prices of illicit cigarettes follow legal cigarette prices. Concomitantly, many new studies, independent from the tobacco industry, have been conducted allowing for better understanding of the illicit trade and providing inputs to its solution. The entry into force of the WHO FCTC Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products provides both a global and a national policy framework to further curb illicit trade. Instruments such as track-and-trace systems must be promoted and adopted to maximise reductions in illicit trade. Conclusions Global efforts to curb the illicit trade in tobacco products are gaining momentum and progress has been made in many parts of the world. The next decade can witness a decisive decrease in tobacco consumption, both licit and illicit, if countries further engage in international collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-262
Number of pages6
JournalTobacco Control
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • economics
  • illegal tobacco products
  • taxation

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