Cigarette smuggling costs national and EU budgets more than €10 billion annually in lost public revenue and is a major source of organised crime, including terrorism, Margarete Hofmann told Euractiv in an interview.
The European Commission will focus on the new tobacco directive, as well as accords with the World Health Organisation to fight against illicit tobacco trade, following the expiration a 12-year deal with Marlboro-maker Philip Morris.
In 2011, KPMG estimated that the annual consumption of illegal cigarettes in the EU was 65.3 billion cigarettes. This was the highest ever recorded level and the fifth consecutive yearly increase. KPMG estimated the annual EU-wide tax loss due to cigarette smuggling to be approximately 11.3 billion euros.