Globally, illicit tobacco is a growing trade – some research indicates this could be up to 12% of world tobacco consumption.
The illicit tobacco market involves criminal gangs producing counterfeit cigarettes, cross-border smuggling and large-scale tax evasion. Read more about British American Tobacco’s view on illicit tobacco .
We see it as vitally important that governments establish workable tax regimes and economic policies that discourage illicit trade, with strong border controls and effective laws to combat the illegal black market in tobacco.
Tackling illicit trade requires co-operation and understanding between legitimate tobacco companies, governments and organisations such as the World Customs Organisation, World Trade Organisation World Health Organisation, and the European Union.
Globally, we have used our expertise and knowledge of the tobacco supply chain to help governments and law-enforcers fighting the illicit tobacco market for many years. British American Tobacco New Zealand actively engages with the New Zealand Customs Service to assist in addressing illicit tobacco trade issues.
The illegal ‘chop-chop’ tobacco trade affects everyone in the New Zealand community.
Illicit tobacco is a significant and growing problem for governments, law enforcement authorities and health agencies overseas. Once it takes hold, it's difficult to control.
Illicit tobacco traders do not pay tax. But, most importantly, they provide the cheapest available cigarettes, often at less than half the legal price, and have no qualms selling them to minors.
Two men were convicted in New Zealand in 2012 for the unlawful manufacture of ‘chop-chop’ (illicit loose tobacco). Almost 5,000 kilograms of tobacco leaf was seized, worth approximately $2 million if sold. [Source: New Zealand Customs Service “Tobacco grower found guilty” (11 June 2012), available here ]
Unlike legal tobacco, Illicit tobacco is not required to meet manufacturing standards or quality controls, is not subject to excise, and can be sold without health warnings or age verification.