From: Tobacco Control

Marin K Kurti1, Klaus von Lampe2, Yi He3, Hiba Khanzada4, Konstantina Kostara5, Qin Da6, Kevin R J Schroth1


Background There is scant research on methods used to identify counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes.

Methods Systematic analysis of internal tobacco industry documents characteristics of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes.

Results In the industry documents we identified as relevant, there were 42 characteristics of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes. Overall, physical characteristics (88.1%) were the most commonly identified features across all locations, with the pack blank, cardboard shell of the cigarette pack, as the dominant site (30.9%). Some of the physical characteristics included offset lithography printing, incorrect font and colour. Overall, light microscopy was identified as the main method of forensic analysis for detecting counterfeits.

From: The World Bank

Illicit trade in tobacco products undermines global tobacco prevention and control interventions, particularly with respect to tobacco tax policy. Additionally, tobacco illicit trade often depends on and can contribute to weakened governance.

Confronting Tobacco Illicit Trade: A Global Review of Country Experiences, prepared in collaboration with a multisectoral team across different institutions, demonstrates that reducing illicit trade in tobacco products is critical whether viewed from the perspective of public health, public finance, governance, or equity.

From: The News (Pakistan)

KARACHI: Pakistan has emerged as the top country in Asia with illicit cigarette trade amounting to 32.6 billion cigarettes annually, with 41.9 percent of total cigarette trade being illegal in the country, a report by Oxford Economics showed.

“Asia Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2017: Pakistan” made available to media by Philip Morris International on Friday said Pakistan was losing more than Rs50 billion in taxes to illegal trade in the country.

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From: LSE Research Online

Max Gallien

Abstract: Contemporary writing on North African borderlands invokes the idea of a general, unregulated porosity through which small-scale informal traders of food or textiles move alongside drug smugglers and terrorists. This paper challenges that conception, demonstrating that the vast majority of smuggling activity is in fact highly regulated through a dense network of informal institutions that determine the costs, quantity and types of goods that can pass through certain nodes, typically segmenting licit from illicit goods. While informal, the institutions regulating this trade are largely impersonal and contain third party enforcement, hence providing a direct empirical challenge to common characterisations of informal institutions in political science. The paper argues that revisiting the characteristics associated with informal institutions, and understanding them as contingent on their political environment, can provide a new starting point for studying institutions, the politics of informality, state capacity, and the regulation of illegal economies.

From: Globalization and Health

Benoît Gomis, Kelley Lee, Natalia Carrillo Botero, Philip Shepherd and Roberto Magno Iglesias



Tabesa became the largest cigarette manufacturer in Paraguay, and one of the largest companies in the country, through complicity in the illicit trade. Enabled by market conditions created by leading TTCs, and a permissive regulatory environment in Paraguay, evidence suggests Tabesa had become a major source of illicit cigarettes across Latin America and beyond by the late 2000s. Although Brazil continues to account for the bulk of Tabesa’s revenues, findings suggest that the company is aspiring to compete with TTCs in markets worldwide through legal and illegal sales.

From: Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

This Occasional Paper explores the exploitation of the internet and delivery services in relation to illicit tobacco and tobacco products.

This Occasional Paper examines the exploitation of the internet and delivery services in relation to illicit trade in tobacco products in Europe. The findings are based on primary research in the form of semi-structured interviews with subject matter experts from law enforcement agencies, government, the private sector, NGOs and international organisations conducted in the UK, France and Germany between May and July 2018.


From: The Economist Intelligence Unit


STOP: ILLEGAL: Why is an index like this important?

Chris Clague: The fact is that illicit trade funds transnational organised crime and international terrorist organisations. Pre-9/11, most international terrorist organisations received their funding through charitable donations and state sponsorship. That money flowed through the international financial system. After 9/11, the US, Europe and various other financial centers around the world shut off that funding for terrorist organisations. So they had to look elsewhere to fund their operations and the obvious choice was to engage in illicit activity, whether it be counterfeits and fakes, illicit tobacco, sanction-busting oil shipments, human trafficking, drugs, small arms – these are the things that the public is not as aware of as they need to be.

Editor’s Note: The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) Policy Paper “Countering Illicit Trade-Lessons from Abroad” is available here.

From: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: A think tank has proposed several methods of combating illegal trade, including imposing a ban on the sale of duty-free cigarettes in Langkawi, Labuan and Tioman.

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) said the previous government had admitted that the tax-free islands were a source for illicit tobacco but previous proposals to ban the sale of duty-free tobacco had been passed over in favour of restrictions.

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From: Tobacco Control

Dardo Curti1, Ce Shang2, Frank J Chaloupka2,3,4, Geoffrey T Fong5,6


Background In Uruguay, real tobacco taxes increased significantly during 2005–2010 and 2014–2017 and decreased during 2010–2014. The effects of these tax changes on illegal and legal cigarette usage differed significantly when we compared cities in the middle and south of the country with cities on the border.

Objective This paper analyses whether supply side factors such as geographical location, distribution networks and the effectiveness of tobacco control play a significant role in sales and use of illegal cigarettes when tobacco taxes change, particularly given the price gap between legal and lower-priced illegal cigarettes.

From: Oxford Economics

Key Findings

This Report provides an overview of the nature of the illicit trade of cigarettes across a selection of Asian markets. It establishes estimates of consumption of illicit cigarettes and the impact this has on tobacco tax revenue. This is the sixth year of the Asia Illicit Tobacco Indicator Report, providing estimates for 16 markets: Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

  • Illicit Incidence was estimated at 14.6% across sixteen Asian markets in 2017, equivalent to 115.9 billion cigarettes where the applicable indirect taxes were not paid.