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Cigarette smuggling  surpasses 10% in May


The black market of cigarettes is in May 2021 at 10.2% of the total consumption, up by 0.3 percentage points against March, according to the research company Novel Research. It is the highest level recorded since the beginning of the pandemics.


In May 2021, the highest increase on the black market was recorded in the South-West region (plus 5.4 percentage points up to 11.4%) and North-West (plus 4.8 percentage points up to 14.7%). Although dropping (minus 1.7 percentage points) North-East continues to be the area most affected by smuggling, 25.3%, the highest level as compared to the rest of the country. From the point of view of the source of the products on the black market, the share ‘ cheap whites’ continues to increase by 3.5 percentage points up to over 60%, Moldova drops significantly with 6.2 p.p. down to 15.7% and Ukraine and Serbia stay relatively constant against March 2021’ stated Marian Marcu, General Director Novel Research.


The Novel study records a new consecutive, small but symbolic growth by the surpassing of the average European level of 10%.But worrying is the continuous increase of ‘cheap whites’. The good news is the significant drop of the share of smuggling with products coming from Moldova, after the companies which imported without taxes impressive quantities of cigarettes for Transnister were left without licence. As we are concerned, JTI will continue to support the authorities in their fight with organized crime. Recently, we have updated the Protocol with the Border Police, partner of the anti-smuggling campaign annually developed by JTI, starting with 2010. Starting with 2005, we have signed protocols of collaboration with the Romanian Customs, ANAF, the Romanian Police, and the Canine Centre in Sibiu. The black market is a real problem, which consumes efforts and resources. In order for the actions of the authorities to get results, it is necessary to have predictability and stability of the fiscal and legislative framework’ stated Gilda Lazar, Director Corporate Affairs & Communications JTI România, Moldova and Bulgaria.


The producers of cigarettes consider that, in order to keep the level under 10% for the illegal traffic, several legislative changes are necessary, which together with the authorities for law enforcement they have requested these last years without any success. The inclusion of smuggling in the category of identified threats in the Strategy for the country defence could be the basis for these changes which include the unitary regulation, with the criterion of quantity, of the crime of cigarette smuggling, as well as the establishment of specific duties for the local police and gendarmerie, as the illegal trade with cigarettes happens almost undisturbed in their  competence area – markets, fairs, metro stations. 


In 2019, the tobacco companies gave to the state budget almost 3.6 billion euro, which is 1.6% of the GDP. In 2020, the tobacco sector has become the most solid taxpayer for the Romanian state.