World Health Organization
Twenty countries from the European Region and the European Union (EU) have signed the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products – the first protocol to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Several factors justify combating illicit trade as a priority in the European Region. Compared to other WHO regions, the European Region has the highest smoking prevalence, the highest proportion of deaths
attributed to tobacco, the highest cigarette tax levels and the highest number of seized cigarettes in the world. Therefore, the impact of eliminating illicit trade in Europe would be significant. The availability of cheap illicit cigarettes increases consumption and thus tobacco related deaths in the future. Eliminating or reducing this illicit trade will therefore reduce consumption by increasing price and reducing premature deaths. An estimate for the illicit cigarette market in Europe varies between 6% and 10%. If the illicit trade were eliminated there would be an overall fall in European cigarette consumption of 1.9%.
If illicit trade were eliminated in Europe, governments would gain additional revenue. An estimate of the gain in revenue for the whole European Region is 9 to 11 billion Euros, taking into account the fall of consumption. To address these crucial issues, it is, therefore, of highest priority that all governments in the Region ratify the Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products as an important means for countries to reduce tobacco-related mortality and morbidity as well as to increase revenue.