Editor’s Note: The complete GAO Report GAO-18-21 to the Sen. Wyden, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, is here. The following are excerpts.

We recommended that CBP take steps to strengthen compliance with export reporting requirements for duty-free cigarette sales.

From: Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit | Working Paper Series: Number 164

Hana Ross

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

25 October 2017

From: Action on Smoking and Health

Illicit tobacco reduces the public health impact of tobacco tax rises and increases demand for tobacco products.  March 2017.

17. Illicit Trade in Tobacco


From: Tobacco Induced Diseases (2017) 15:18

Aimei Mao, Joan L. Bottorff, John L. Oliffe, Gayl Sarbit and Mary T. Kelly


Background: Immigrants often experience economic hardship in their host country and tend to belong to economically disadvantaged groups. Individuals of lower socioeconomic status tend to be more sensitive to cigarette price changes. This study explores the cigarette purchasing patterns among Chinese Canadian male immigrants.

Methods: Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 22 Chinese Canadian immigrants who were smoking or had quit smoking in the last five years.

From: Tobacco Control

Peter Reuter


The goals of tobacco control endgame strategies are specified in terms of the desired levels of tobacco use and/or tobacco related health consequences. Yet the strategies being considered may have other consequences beyond tobacco use prevalence, forms and related harms. Most of the proposed strategies threaten to create large black markets with potential attendant harms: corruption, high illegal earnings, violence and/or organised crime. Western societies of course have considerable experience with these problems in the context of prohibition of drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. These experiences suggest that low prevalence has been achieved only by tough enforcement with damaging unintended consequences. Tobacco prohibition (total or partial) may not present the same trade-off but there is little basis for making a projection of the scale, form and harms of the attendant black markets. Nonetheless, these harms should not be ignored in analyses of the endgame proposals.

From: American Journal of Public Health



Using archival records of the Commissariat of Public Health, journals, and propaganda materials from the antismoking campaign of the Soviet 1920s, this article argues that the revolutionary state pursued an antitobacco policy unique in the world in its attack on tobacco use at a national scale. The commissar of public health, Nikolai Alexandrovich Semashko, attempted to severely curtail tobacco cultivation and production, limit tobacco sales, and create a public opinion against tobacco with a propaganda campaign. Even in failing in its farther-reaching goals, the policy proved one of the most forward in terms of antismoking propaganda and state-sponsored treatment regimens, with the distribution of antismoking posters, pamphlets, articles, plays, and films as well as the creation of special state-sponsored smoking-cessation programs that boasted high success rates.

From: Loma Linda University

Researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health were recently awarded a $1.4 million grant from the NIH to develop new research methods for enhancing the effectiveness of tobacco-control programs in Cambodia, Laos and Mongolia.

Pramil Singh, DrPH, director of the Center for Health Research at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health, is principal investigator for the grant, which will allow him and a team of four U.S. co-investigators to build survey research capacity for tobacco control in the three East Asian nations. He notes that almost half the males in those countries are smokers, and calls the rate very high.

From: American Enterprise Institute


Illicit white cigarettes are cigarettes that are legal in the country of production, but are illegally smuggled into other markets where no tax is paid. This paper analyzes whether taxes create a price wedge between legal and illicit cigarettes and thereby affect the availability and trade of illicit whites across markets. Through original, self-conducted point-of-sale surveys and discarded pack collections across 18 cities, we find that cigarette taxes significantly affect the market for illicit whites. Moreover, based on a smoker survey, we find that the illicit white market is supported by consumers willing to purchase illicit products for their reduced prices. It is beyond the scope of this paper to ascertain the optimal tax rates on cigarettes or the stringency of enforcement measures to reduce smoking rates (the desired health outcome). However, gaining a better understanding of the effects of taxes on illicit white trade and consumption is vital because our research suggests that current “sin taxes” drive illicit activity and therefore reduce the effectiveness of higher taxes in curbing the use of cigarettes.

From: Addiction

Wayne Hall1, Lynn T Kozlowski2

Aim: To examine briefly the (i) rationales for two policy proposals in the United States to make it mandatory for cigarettes to contain very low levels of nicotine and to legalize cannabis for recreational use by adults; and (ii) possible lessons that participants in each policy debate may learn from each other.

Method: We briefly describe the diverging policies towards cannabis and tobacco in the United States, explain and critically analyse their rationales and discuss possible policy lessons.

From: Tobacco Regulatory Science;3(3):347-357

Esther E. Omaiye, MS, BS; Iliana Cordova, BS; Barbara Davis, BS; Prue Talbot, PhD, MA


We compared nicotine concentrations in one brand of refill fluids that were purchased in 4 countries and labeled 0 mg of nicotine/mL. We then identified counterfeit e-cigarette products from these countries.


Overall, 125 e-cigarette refill fluids were purchased in Nigeria, the United States (US), England, and China. Nicotine concentrations were measured using high performance liquid chromatography and compared to labeled concentrations. Refill fluids were examined to identify physical differences and grouped into authentic and counterfeit products.