On 26-29 October, the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova organised an international Conference “Together in the Fight against Tobacco Smuggling”. Customs officers and border guards from Moldova, France, Poland, Romania and Ukraine attended as well as the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and EUBAM. Service dogs were also put through their paces at a competition for detecting tobacco products and drugs. First places went to Moldova.
The conference focused on the sharing of experience in detecting tobacco and tobacco products, the analysis of current trends in countering smuggling, the exchange of information on tobacco products and their chemical composition.
One of the highlights surrounding the conference was the launch of Moldova’s “Strategy of the Customs Service in the Fight against the Smuggling and Illegal Trade in Tobacco Products for 2015-2018”. The strategy was signed by the Head of the Customs Service, the Director General of OLAF and the Head of EUBAM’s Operations Office. The Strategy was elaborated in cooperation with EUBAM and in coordination with the representatives of tobacco products producers and OLAF.
Countering customs frauds related to cigarette-smuggling is a priority for Moldovan Customs. EUBAM’s Task Force Tobacco is a cooperation platform which helps the Mission’s partner services – the border, customs and other law enforcement agencies of Moldova and Ukraine – to identify and develop modern mechanisms to counter cigarette-smuggling. The Mission advised Moldova and Ukraine to elaborate and adopt national anti-tobacco strategies, along with accompanying enforcement action plans in order to strengthen counteraction activities. This will help partner services to fulfil the requirements of their Association Agreements with the EU and the related Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas.
During the conference, new methods for the detection of tobacco and tobacco products were showcased and a competition for service dogs specializing in the detection of tobacco and drugs was held. The Moldovan Customs and Border Police service dogs came first and were recognised as the best in the detection of tobacco products and drugs.
Anti-tobacco smuggling is one of EUBAM’s flagship initiatives.