EUBAM‘s Task Force Tobacco Group meeting took place in Chisinau on 21-22 October. The event brought together experts from law enforcement agencies in Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, as well as major cigarette producers such as British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris. Representatives from EU agencies Europol, OLAF and SELEC, as well as the UK HMRC also attended.
The participants presented the latest findings on cigarette-smuggling and cases involving large-scale seizures of tobacco products originating in Moldova and Ukraine. They discussed the strategic aspects of counteracting cigarette-smuggling in the region, including the introduction of the Moldovan and Ukrainian national strategies to step up the fight against the illicit trade in tobacco products. Moldova has finalized its national strategy which will be launched on 27 October while Ukraine is continuing to work on its strategy. The participants also agreed to strengthen counteraction activities against the smuggling of so-called “cheap white” cigarettes via Moldova and Ukraine to the EU, for which there is normally no legal market.
Cigarette smuggling is presently assessed as one of the most serious risks to economic security and security at the Moldova-Ukraine border. Despite the good work being done by local and international law enforcement agencies, the likelihood of the illegal movement of cigarettes through the Moldova-Ukraine border remains high.
Task Force Tobacco was created by EUBAM in 2010 to serve as a platform for combining national and international effort to combat the smuggling of tobacco products from Moldova and Ukraine into the European Union.