Why is confronting illicit trade key to delivering a smoke-free future?

The world has an unprecedented opportunity to eradicate smoking. Science and technology have enabled the development of better alternatives for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke, moving a smoke-free future to within our grasp. 

To deliver a smoke-free future, we must ensure that there are no illegal actors sustaining a black market for cigarettes and other tobacco products. Cigarettes, for instance, remain one of the most common illegally traded goods in the world, with as much as 12 percent of total cigarette sales (excl. China) sourced from the black market.

Smoke-free products can be a much better choice for adult smokers than continuing to smoke, so it is also paramount to protect consumers from fakes and prevent the smuggling and counterfeiting of our products.

Securing our supply chain

For PMI, eliminating the illicit tobacco trade has been a long-standing priority. We focus our efforts on securing our supply chain and protecting our products. And we do it by leveraging technology and innovation for the better: From multiple applications of authentication and security technologies to track and trace our products across the supply chain, to the use of machine learning to identify and prevent illegal online sales, technology is helping us detect and address illicit trade.

But if we truly want to have an impact on deterring illicit tobacco flows, and protect consumers and our brands from smugglers and counterfeiters, our internal efforts need to be coupled with strong cross-sectoral collaboration and partnerships.

A holistic approach for a successful collaboration

No one can fight illicit trade on their own. Public-private partnerships based on an inclusive, commonsense approach by governments, the private sector, and civil society are vital to helping combat the practice.

This is why we set up PMI IMPACT, a major initiative to fund projects around the world to address and tackle illicit trade. PMI IMPACT fosters cross-sector and public-private collaboration, as it supports a wide range of organizations that fight illegal trade through research, awareness-raising, developing technical solutions, funding equipment, and training and communication initiatives. 

In today’s hyper-connected world—with growing concerns around global security, the proliferation of criminal organizations, and the surge of new digital tools—we believe that it’s more important than ever to sustain our collective efforts and promote an inclusive dialogue around solutions to tackle this global issue.

To deliver a smoke-free future, it is imperative to eradicate illicit trade wherever it exists.

The STOP ILLEGAL blog sheds light on all aspects of the illicit trade problem, and provides insights from experts around the world.


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