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Illegal tobacco trade is a global issue, with links to organized crime and terrorism.
Cigarettes are among the most illegally trafficked goods in the world. One in 10 cigarettes is sold on the black market, with serious consequences for consumers, and costs governments up to USD 50 billion a year.
At PMI, we are working with governments and other partners in public and private sectors to address this problem. That's why we set up PMI IMPACT, a major initiative to fund projects around the world to combat illicit trade. It’s also why we track and trace our products, and why we continue to be a global front-runner in education and awareness-building.
There are four main categories of illicit tobacco products:
- Contraband: genuine products that are diverted from their intended market of destination and sold illegally
- Counterfeit: copies of genuine products that are produced and sold illegally
- Illicit whites: tobacco products that are legally produced in a country with the sole intention of selling them in another market
Cigarettes are among the most illegally traded goods in the world.
The illegal tobacco trade is a global issue. We are working with governments and other partners in the public and private sectors to address this problem.
Unfortunately, it’s often difficult for a consumer to distinguish between fake and genuine cigarettes.
Buying cigarettes in open-air markets, or from street vendors, increases the likelihood of ending up with fake or smuggled cigarettes.
We recommend that you buy cigarettes only in legitimate and well-established retail outlets.
If you are unsure whether you bought an illegal tobacco product, we recommend that you call your local consumer hotline.