From: Legal Anthropology  eJournal, Vol. 3, No. 55: Mar 23, 2018.

by Mark Kleiman and Michael L DeFeo


The illicit trade in tobacco products (ITTP) is substantial and growing. The federal government does not now have adequate capacity to control ITTP. Other urgent priorities have compelled the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) to substantially abandon its tobacco enforcement efforts. The potential gains from ITTP activity are high and unlikely to decrease under any currently probable scenario, while the enforcement risks are modest. That combination predicts continued growth in ITTP levels. The resources required to bring any illicit market under control are roughly proportional to the size of the market. Thus, current neglect increases the future difficulty of the problem.

From: US FDA


VII. Conclusion

While it remains difficult to measure existing illicit trade markets and use existing data to reliably predict future demand for illicit tobacco products, it is possible to isolate some of the key factors that may encourage or discourage illicit trade in tobacco products. For example:

  • Depending upon the standard, there might remain strong, legal demand for components that, while intended for legal products outside the scope of the standard, could be used to make an illicit product. If diverted into an illicit channel, such components would represent a means by which illicit trade in full-nicotine cigarettes might develop.

From: Asymmetrica

From: Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Conclusion and Next Steps

As noted, the Task Force has significantly increased the scope and scale of its investigative and enforcement activities during the course of the past year. These enforcement actions have produced tangible results in the form of arrests and prosecutions of wrongdoers, dismantling and disrupting smuggling operations, removal of contraband tobacco products from circulation and
an increase in OTP tax collections. As it looks forward, the Task Force intends to continue its aggressive civil and criminal enforcement activities for the remainder of FY18 and continuing
into FY19.