Philip Morris unveils first illicit tobacco fund recipients

Tobacco giant Philip Morris International has selected 32 projects that will be funded through a $100m fund set up to tackle illicit tobacco products.

The project will be funded by PMI IMPACT, a global initiative set up to focus anti-illicit trade efforts, with the first projects from public, private, and academic sectors in 18 countries earmarked to receive up to $28m under the scheme. The 32 winners – from the first of three rounds – were selected out of some 200 applicants, with projects covering the following areas:

  • Research exploring the scope and drivers of illegal trade;

  • Technical solutions and equipment to support law enforcement operations;

  • Activities to enhance the capacity and proficiency of law enforcement agencies and other actors; and

  • Education and awareness programmes, including initiatives for greater cross-sector collaboration.

Despite significant efforts to date, the illegal trade in tobacco products remains one of the most profitable and least risky forms of illegal trade, with an estimated 600 billion illicit cigarettes consumed annually.

The first-round projects focus on the EU and neighbouring countries, and in many cases are exploring the nexus between organized crime, terrorism, online and offline trafficking, and the interdependencies between different forms of illegal trade. They will be carried out over the next two years.

"Illicit tobacco trade is just one face of a growing web of crimes, and we know that it's only through coordinated actions of many public and private actors that we can put an end to these illegal activities that harm consumers, damage businesses, and allow criminals to prosper," said Alvise Giustiniani, PMI's vice president illicit trade strategies and prevention.

"It is impressive to see such a wide range of new approaches that address the core of this complex problem."

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