Illegal cigarettes trade increase
Statistics show that 11.6 percent of the global cigarette market was illegal, equal to some 657 billion cigarettes a year.
Cigarette and tobacco contraband is financing activist or extremist groups such as the Pakistani Taliban, which consume about 40 billion dollars a year from government budgets.
The illicit tobacco trade presents a serious threat to public safety in Canada too. Over 100 criminal organizations are currently known to be involved in the illicit tobacco trade. Profits from illegal tobacco products fund other criminal activities, such as drug and gun trafficking. The rise of organized criminal activity in the contraband tobacco market threatens the safety of all Canadians.
The cigarette industry is facing its greatest danger from illicit trade in contraband, which is sold cheaply in Pakistan and is often of better quality than the products manufactured locally. In response, companies are innovating new brands, improving quality and putting pressure on the government to place restrictions on duty-free cigarettes and combat the illicit trade in tobacco. Contraband trade in tobacco products is also causing problems for the government in the form of great losses to the exchequer.
The claims were made as 160 countries summarized talks at the World Health Organization on enlarging an international anti-smoking contract for to reduce the illicit trade in tobacco, anti-tobacco researchers reported.
Apart from issues such as enforcement and coordination, the ten-day preliminary discussions are also investigating a possible cessation to respect free sales of cigarettes or measures against Internet sales, studies showed.
An alliance of some 350 anti-tobacco campaign groups said in a declaration that arranged action against the contraband and fake cigarettes trade would far outweigh the 40.5 billion dollars in lost tax income.
Researchers also confirmed that half a dozen terrorist or militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Hezbollah, illicit FARC rebels in Colombia and the Real IRA in Northern Ireland, trust on black market tobacco for profit.
David Kaplan, editorial director of the US-based Center for Public Integrity, said: “We believe that tobacco has been second only to drugs as a source of finance to the Pakistani Taliban”.
Researchers also estimated that 80 percent of counterfeit cigarettes in the European Union and 99 percent of those sold on US streets were among the estimated 400 billion made illegally every year in China.
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