JTI Establishes a Precedent for Fighting Contraband Tobacco in 2017

The sale of contraband tobacco continues to grow throughout the world notwithstanding the efforts by a number of concerned governmental and private sector organizations. Arguably the growth would have been considerably greater had not it been for the determined efforts of the aforementioned groups.

Contraband tobacco supports a range of criminal activities ranging from organized crime to terrorism to human trafficking.

JTI (Japanese Tobacco International) has developed a very successful program to address illicit tobacco. More specifically in Azerbaijan it approached the problem head on. Presently contraband constitutes some 13% of the tobacco market which consists of the sale of one billion cigarettes each year.

More specifically JTI  developed a program which:

  • focuses on working with local officials
  • conducts training courses in a number of different locations within the country.
  • places a special emphasis on working with custom officials.
  • sponsored training courses for Azerbaijan custom officials with their counterparts in Germany.

CRE produces a range of research papers to assist those fighting contraband tobacco, see this post. To this end CRE is in the process of preparing a monograph  on the JTI Azerbaijan experience to share with our readers throughout the world.

We encourage our readers who have relevant information to share it with CRE by contacting levinson@thecre.com

CRE would also welcome the views of our readers on:

(1) conducting an EPS (Empty Pack Study) to determine the effectiveness of the training program in Azerbaijan.

(2) conducting seminars with Azerbaijan custom officials to obtain their views on the effectiveness of the program and ways to improve it.

(3) soliciting the views of Azerbaijan government officials to assess the impact the contraband program had on their daily operations and if it lead to greater recognition by government enforcement officials of the need to commit the necessary resources to combat contraband tobacco.

(4)  Assessing the merits of developing market-driven consortia standards to implement a track-and-trace system.  Developing the track-and-trace standards and conformity assessment processes via a market-driven consortia, in lieu of a system mandated by a governmental body, would solve the problems such as those  being encountered by both the EU and the tobacco industry in their implementation of such a program in Europe. Market-driven consortia processes allow the industry to develop and operate the system  while also allowing for structured public participation but doing so in a way that prevents hostile groups from interfering with the process; market-driven consortia standards  do not have the inflexibility associated with voluntary consensus standards.

A potential role for OIRA.


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