Tuesday

23rd Apr 2019

Illicit EU cigarette consumption at record high

  • Europeans smoked more than 65 billion illicit cigarettes in 2011. (Photo: lanier67)

The demand for cheap cigarettes in Europe is fueling the manufacture and consumption of illicit tobacco at unprecedented levels.

A report, released on Wednesday (20 June) by Philip Morris International (PMI), says Europeans smoked more than 65 billion illicit cigarettes in 2011.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Of those, more than 12 billion were consumed in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta. Western and central EU countries consumed a combined total of 36.5 billion.

But in Spain alone, cigarette contraband jumped by 300 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. In Greece, illicit consumption increased five-fold compared to 2008.

"Despite efforts by law enforcement authorities to curb the illegal cigarette market, it remains a significant problem, having grown by more than five billion cigarettes in the EU in the last five years," said PMI’s Artyom Chernis, vice-president of illicit trade strategies and prevention.

The production of cigarettes that are manufactured and then smuggled into another EU country went from nearly zero in 2006 to 15.7 billion last year, or nearly one in every four smoked.

The smuggled cigarettes are considered a recent phenomenon on the European black market. Many are sold throughout EU capitals at a 50 to 70 percent mark down compared to the store-bought equivalent.

The study, conducted by the US-based auditing firm KPMG, says the contraband represents an €11.3 billion annual loss in EU-wide tax revenue.

Last April, authorities in Rome along with the EU's anti-fraud office, Olaf, dismantled a major criminal international smuggling organisation that branched out to Spain, Germany, Slovenia, Greece and Bosnia.

Police seized 10 tonnes of cigarettes valued at approximately €2 million. One of the men arrested had close ties to the Camorra organised crime group in Naples. He was living as a fugitive in Greece at the time of his arrest.

For its part, the European Commission has partnered up with four of the world's largest tobacco manufacturers in order to tackle the problem.

The commission ranks cigarettes as the number one product detained by EU border customs in 2010. Nearly 34 percent of all illicit articles entering the EU were cigarettes.

Prison suicide rates in France highest in Europe

Suicide rates per 10,000 inmates in 2017 in France stood at 12.6, higher than any other European country. The latest figures are part of a much bigger report out Tuesday by the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us