Strategies to Combat Illicit Tobacco Trade (2012)

Authors: Jess Alderman

Introduction

Illicit tobacco trade is a significant global problem. Experts estimate that more than 10 percent of cigarettes bought around the world are sold illegally,1 and in the United States alone smuggling costs about $5 billion per year in lost state tax revenues.2 The contraband tobacco trade is one of the most complex tobacco control issues because it is intertwined with so many other political, legal, and policy concerns. High tobacco taxes have a significant positive impact on public health3 and the evasion of tobacco taxes directly undermines the documented ability of these taxes to reduce smoking rates. Other, more indirect effects include shielding tobacco purchases from state requirements relating to customer age verification, licensing, advertising, manufacturing standards, and record keeping.

Read more: Tobacco Control Legal Consortium