Confronting Illicit Tobacco Trade: A Global Review of Country Experiences

Feb 1, 2019

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.

This publication presents country and regional case studies, covering over 30 countries, and provides practical input regarding how to address tobacco illicit trade. It also summarizes the good practices and recommendations that emerge from the country cases and draws on guidance from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s (FCTC) Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, as well as from the European Union (EU), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Key messages from this report include the following:

  • Tobacco taxes play only a minor role in illicit trade.
  • To reduce illicit trade in tobacco products, it is both crucial and feasible for all countries to strengthen tax administration and enforcement.
  • The strengthening of tax administration and tobacco tax reform should be viewed as mutually complementary.

This report demonstrates the importance – and feasibility – of addressing illicit trade in tobacco products as an integral part of tobacco tax reform and comprehensive tobacco control.

Executive Summary

Full report



The Protocol to Eliminate Illicite Trade in Tobacco Products: A Global Solution to a Global Problem


–  Australia: Addressing the Illicit Flow of Tobacco Products in Australia
  –  Canada: Controlling Illicit Tobacco Trade 
–  European Union: Confronting Illicit Tobacco Trade: An Update on EU Policies
–  Georgia: Controlling Illicit Cigarette Trade
–  Ireland: Addressing the Illicit Flow of Tobacco Products
–  United Kingdom: Tackling Illicit Tobacco


–  Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Trinidad and Tobago: Regional Reports on Illicit Tobacco Trade
–  Chile: Tackling the Illicit Tobacco Trade
–  Colombia: Illicit Cigarette Trade
–  Ecuador: Addressing Illicit Tobacco Trade
–  Mexico: Controlling the Illicit Cigarette Trade
–  Uruguay: Tackling Illicit Tobacco Trade


–  Bangladesh: Illicit Tobacco Trade
–  Indonesia: Tackling Illicit Cigarettes
–  Malaysia: Addressing the Illicit Flow of Tobacco Products
–  Philippines: Addressing the Illicit Flow of Tobacco Products


–  Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Eswatini) and Zambia: Addressing the Illicit Flow of Tobacco Products
–  Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa: An Analysis of Alcohol and Cigarette Prices in Maseru, Gaborone, and Neighboring South African Towns
–  Kenya: Controlling Illicit Cigarette Trade
–  Senegal: Addressing Illicit Tobacco Trade

Tobacco Tax Administration: A Perspective from the IMF

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