EU steps up fight against cigarette smuggling

Brussels, June 7 (IANS) The European Commission has adopted a package of measures to fight against illegal tobacco trade, in particular cigarette smuggling.

The package includes heavier sanctions for smuggling, stronger enforcement of tax, customs, police and border authorities, as well as measures to decrease smuggling incentives and improve the security of supply chains, reported Xinhua.

“With the package of measures to clamp down on cigarette smuggling, we can help to better protect the public purse, the health of our citizens and legitimate businesses,” the EU’s taxation commissioner Algirdas Semeta said here Thursday.

Every year, the cost of illegal tobacco trade for the EU and its member states amount to 10 billion euros ($13 billion) in terms of unpaid taxes and duties. It also involves organized crime groups operating across borders, in addition to undermining European and national health policy initiatives.

The commission presented an action plan to tackle cigarette smuggling at the EU’s eastern land border back in 2011, but for the past two years the EU has been facing a rising influx of illegal tobacco brands as well as increased illegal production and distribution inside the bloc.

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