British American Tobacco is launching at all border points of Romania, a national campaign against cigarette smuggling that aims to inform the general public about the quantities you can travel with when you cross the border and the consequences of breaking the law. The campaign, as a part of the “Stop smuggling” program, developed by British American Tobacco, is carried out in partnership with the Romanian Border Police, NAFA and the General Directorate for Customs.
Not everyone who comes with cigarettes in the country knows the legal provisions regarding the maximum quantity of cigarettes admitted at the border crossing. Moreover, cigarettes purchased from markets outside the EU can be 3-4 times cheaper than those in Romania, which is why they are often sold to friends or distributed in stores and on social networks for sale. The purpose of this campaign is to inform the general public about the severe consequences of illicit trafficking in tobacco products, both at the individual level, through harsh legal penalties, and at a social and economic level, by maintaining income sources for organized crime networks.
“Every year, over 60 million people pass through the Romanian border crossing points. Some of them do not know, for example, that in the countries of the European Union you can carry a maximum of 40 packages of cigarettes, and in countries outside the Union, a maximum of 10 packages or that upon entering the country you can have 40 packages of cigarettes if you enter the community space or 2 packages if you enter the non-community space. Through this campaign we continue the program started in 2017 and bring to the general public the necessary information on the legal provisions regarding the quantity of tobacco products allowed during the trips. The Stop Smuggling platform is a permanent source of consumer information regarding the consequences of smuggling, but also about the results of the autorithies in combating this phenomenon.”, said Ileana Dumitru, Director of Legal & External Affairs, at British American Tobacco.
The sustained efforts of the authorities have led to a reduction in the consumption of illegal tobacco products, for which no tax is paid, from 16.3% in the first six months of last year to 15.8% in the first half of 2019.
“The fight against cigarette smuggling continues to be one of the main priorities of the Border Police, with specific actions being taken daily to identify and detain persons who carry out illicit activities in this sphere. In the first six months of this year alone, border guards discoveder and confiscated, independently or in collaboration with other state institutions, approximately 2.4 million cigarette packages smuggled, worth over 24 million lei. Equipment and specialists within the Border Police structures are involved in combating this phenomenon, which is a complex one, with ramifications throughout the country.”, said the head of Border Police, general police superintendent Ioan Buda.
In the context of reducing the consumption of smuggled cigarettes tobacco companies have transferred more money to the state budged, in the case of British American Tobacco, the increase being over 90 million euros for the first half of 2019.
“Actions to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in cigarettes and tobacco products are a priority of the National Agency for Tax Administration – General Directorate of Customs. The main duties of the Romanian customs are to protect the financial interests of the EU and of the European Borders. Therefor combating illicit trafficking with cigarettes and tobacco products, which causes major damage to the state budget, is one of our main objectives. Thus, the actions and efforts of the customs workers, in cooperation with the other law enforcement authorities, continued in the first 6 months of 2019, when aa number of 25,284,426 pieces of cigarettes were confiscated, compared to the same period last year when only 11.534.990 pieces were confiscated. Furthermore we consider the campaign to inform the public about the effects of smuggling on society and the risks to which people who are involved in such activities are exposed to, to be appropriate considering that one of the directions of action for the prevention and control of the illicit traffic with cigarettes and tobacco products, within the National strategy of the customs authority to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in cigarettes and tobacco products 2019-2021, is to reduce the demand for tobacco products from smuggling by participating in public campaigns to raise awareness of the negative effects of illegal trade in tobacco products, along witth other state institutions and cigarettes producers.”, said NAFA’s Vicepresident Ştefan Cosmin Doliş.
About cigarette smuggling in Romania
- Romania is one of the countries with a high level of cigarette smuggling in Eastern Europe.
- Romania has 2.000 km of border with non-UE countries, on whose territory the price of tobacco can be up to 3-4 times lower.
- The illicit trafficking of cigarettes damages the Romanian state annually with over 650 million euros (about 3 billion lei).
- In the last 6 years (2013-2018) the total quantity of cigarettes discovered and confiscated at the Romanian border amounts to approximately 42.3 million cigarette packages, with a value of over 390 million lei.
- Each container of illegal cigarettes means 1 million euros profit for smuggling networks. Interpol data show that illicit cigarette trafficking is a catalyst for trafficking in drugs, weaponse, people and even terrorist activities.