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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2401

The tobacco industry cigarettes continue to account for two-thirds of the illicit cigarette market

By Manjari Peiris

Growing and diverse sources of evidence indicate that the tobacco industry remains involved in tobacco smuggling and that tobacco industry cigarettes account for around two-thirds of the illicit cigarette market.

The tobacco industry therefore has a vested interest in controlling the global tobacco and trace system aimed to curtail this behaviour, a research conducted by three researchers exploring the rationale for and nature of the tobacco industry's efforts to influence the Illicit Trade Protocol (ITP) and its track and trace system revealed.

To this end, Philip Morris International (PMI) adapted its pack marker system, Codentify, to meet tobacco and trace requirements, licensed it for free to its three major competitors who then collectively promoted it to governments using front groups and third parties including companies claiming to be independent despite clear tobacco industry links. PMI also sought to suggest Codentify was independent by selling some parts of its intellectual property on Codentify while retaining others, leaving a complex web of shared interests.

In Africa, British American Tobacco used payments to obtain data suggesting its smaller competitor companies were evading taxes and secure influence with tax authorities. Regulatory capture has been enhanced by a public relations effort involving tobacco industry funding for conferences, training, research, and international police and anti-corruption organizations. Collectively this has created public messaging and a powerful network of organizations supportive of the tobacco industry’s misleading position on illicit.

Since the tobacco industry has a decades-long history of lies and deceit, the study concludes th
governments should assume the tobacco industry seeks to control track and trace systems in order to avoid scrutiny and minimize excise tax payments and that any track and trace system based on Codentify, on intellectual property currently or previously owned by the tobacco industry, or being promoted or implemented by companies with tobacco industry links, is incompatible with the Illicit Trade Protocol and would not serve to reduce illicit trade.

Source of information: Tobacco Control - BMJ

- Asian Tribune -

The tobacco industry cigarettes continue to account for two-thirds of the illicit cigarette market
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