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in Contraband Tobacco

Cigarette Smuggling: A Global Weapon against Public Health Measures

From China to Latin America, cigarette smuggling is big business. Here is some interesting reading on smuggling in Europe and other places

Few people would condone smuggling, particularly smuggling on the scale Canada experienced in the early 1990s. Revenues that governments lose through tax fraud in one place have to be made up elsewhere. And smuggling often breeds other types of crime.

But why have Canadian health groups been so upset about cigarette smuggling? The simple answer is that increasing cigarette taxes is the single most effective measure in combatting tobacco addiction, in particular among young people, that has been implemented to date. Evidence continues to accumulate that suggests the tobacco industry uses smuggling as a deliberate tool to achieve commercial and political goals. In Canada’s case, smuggling forced a tax rollback, ultimately reversing a long-time downward trend in youth smoking.

For a more thorough collection of facts and figures on tobacco taxes, public health and smuggling, please consult the October 1999 report compiled by the Canadian Cancer Society, NSRA, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, and the Québec Coalition for Tobacco Control: Surveying the Damage: Cut-rate tobacco products and public health in the 1990s.

See also: comparative tax map in PDF format, last updated June 17th, 2002, showing average cigarette prices on either side of the Canada-U.S. border. (Please note: this file is designed primarily to be saved and printed off. It may look unusual on screen, depending what screen resolution and number of colours you are using.)

See also: Curbing the Epidemic: Governments and the Economics of Tobacco Control, a World Bank report (1999) that includes a highly relevant chapter on “Measures to control the demand for tobacco.”

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