PMI donates $1.2m to Romania’s illicit tobacco fight

Big tobacco company Philip Morris International has given $1.2m to the police in Romania to help disrupt the illicit trade in tobacco products.

The donation will fund vehicles, high-tech cameras, protective equipment and sniffer dogs, reports, and the multinational is also providing tobacco samples for dog-training purposes.

Romania is a hot spot for counterfeit and contraband (C&C) tobacco, with a report published by KPMG last year suggesting that 16.4 per cent of total cigarette consumption (around 4.41bn cigarettes) is counterfeit, costing the authorities around €546m in lost revenue. A lot of the smuggling takes place over the borders between Ukraine and Moldova, and the country is an important transit point for C&C.

KPMG says the rise in illicit trade has been fuelled by a shift by organised crime groups from high-risk activities such as drug trafficking and into tobacco smuggling and corruption among customs and border police. Penalties are also light and don’t seem to serve as a deterrent, with criminals convicted of C&C tobacco offenses often returning to the activity after serving sentences.

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