Moldovan, Ukrainian and EU law enforcements unite efforts in counteracting tobacco smuggling

        On 26-27 of October the Annual meeting of EUBAM Task Force Tobacco took place in Chisinau. The event brought together experts from Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, UK, OLAF and SELEC, as well as the global tobacco manufacturers such as British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris. The event provided an excellent opportunity for practitioners to share their views and deepen the international cooperation in counteracting cigarettes smuggling which has a significant impact on the budgets of the affected countries.

        Law enforcement and international agencies presented results of the operations they had conducted in 2016, with a particular attention on sophisticated or new ways of smuggling. Discussions focused on possible coordinated solutions for tackling this criminal activity. The experts agreed that increased pressure is posed from the smuggling of so-called “cheap white” cigarettes which are most often imported from third countries and for which there is normally no legal market within the EU.

        The participants also discussed the support to the implementation of the Moldovan Customs Service’s Anti-illicit Tobacco Trade Strategy as well as the future endorsement of such strategy by the Government of Ukraine.

        Task Force Tobacco was set up in 2010 to serve as a collaborative platform for Moldovan and Ukrainian authorities in fighting cigarette smuggling. The Task Force has become the key mechanism for EUBAM’s engagement with Moldovan and Ukrainian partners as well as wider stakeholders on the illicit tobacco trade. It has encouraged partners to share intelligence and develop integrated methods for dealing with a common problem. It has also facilitated contacts with their counterparts in EU member states and broader business community.