Image default

Illegal counterfeit cigarettes increasingly popular with smokers

Smokers are increasingly buying cheap counterfeit cigarettes instead of genuine branded cigarettes. In the corona year 2020, 50 million more such fakes were picked up in the Netherlands than the year before. While the total consumption of cigarettes (legal and illegal) in our country fell by 700 million pieces to 11.1 billion.

Illegal tobacco trade

This is apparent from the annual investigation into illegal tobacco trade in Europe by KPMG, commissioned by Philip Morris International (PMI). The international producer calls on governments, investigative authorities and stakeholders to stand together against the criminal tobacco industry. Online e liquid store cheap. The Dutch treasury lost 201 million euros in excise duties and VAT due to illegal sales last year, 46 million more than in 2019. Across Europe, that is 8.5 billion euros, according to the report. 

Smoked less

The total consumption of cigarettes (legal and illegal) in Europe last year amounted to 438.8 billion pieces, about 4.9 percent less than in 2019. However, the share of illegal cigarettes grew by half a percent to 7.7 percent (34 .2 billion units), KPMG calculated.

This increase is remarkable because the large-scale smuggling of cigarettes (on which no tax has been paid) is steadily declining in the EU, also last year (from 14.7 to 14.2 billion pieces). According to the researchers, the fact that more illegal butts were smoked in 2020 is due to the unprecedented growth of counterfeiting: 89 percent more. France leads the way with a sixfold increase in the number of smoked counterfeit sapphires to 6 billion.

Consumers are looking for alternatives to expensive cigarettes. Because of corona they couldn’t go abroad and tax-free shop

The influence of corona seems to be (partly) fed by tax increases. A pack of Marlboro (20 pieces) cost 7 euros in France in 2017, compared to 10.50 euros in April last year. In the Netherlands, the price rose from 6.70 to 8.00 euros. “Consumers are looking for alternatives to expensive cigarettes. Due to corona, they were unable to go abroad and tax-free shops for this,” analyzes expert Ellen Thewissen of Philip Morris Benelux.

During the pandemic, European consumption in this market segment fell by 11.9 billion cigarettes (-18.5 percent). However, 6 billion more (cheaper) checks were rolled.

The Dutch and German police rolled up this illegal cigarette factory last year in Kranenburg in Germany, just across the border near Nijmegen. The factory could make 10 million cigarettes a week. The Netherlands is playing a growing role as a production and transit country for illegal smoking products. Since 2013, FIOD and customs have rounded up 37 illegal cigarette factories in our country, of which four this year. The last one was in Veen at the end of May, where 750,000 counterfeit cigarettes and 21,000 kilos of tobacco were found.

Polish gangs

The illegal (counterfeit) production mainly involves well-organized Eastern European gangs, especially Polish ones, according to investigations. “Production from our country is mainly disappearing to France and England, which is apparent from, among other things, illegal smoking materials that have been seized there,” said spokesperson Abe Brandsma of PMI in the Netherlands.

In addition to the treasury, illegal smoking products also cost the legal industry a lot of turnover due to what she calls false competition. Cheap e cigarettes found online. According to PMI, she also thwarts the company’s vision towards a ‘smoke-free society’. Cigarettes are making way for products without tobacco combustion, such as e-cigarets. According to the RIVM, these alternatives are indeed less unhealthy but still harmful.