Illicit cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco in 18 european countries: a cross-sectional survey – opus


Reference

Joossens, L., Lugo, A., La Vecchia, C., Gilmore, A. B., Clancy, L. and Gallus, S., 2012. Illicit cigarettes and hand rolled tobacco in 18 European countries a cross sectional survey. Tobacco Control, Onlne First.

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Abstract

Objective Little evidence, other than that commissioned by the tobacco industry, exists on the size of the illicit tobacco trade. This study addresses this gap by examining the level and nature of illicit cigarettes and hand rolled tobacco in 18 European countries. Design Face to face cross sectional survey on smoking. Setting 18 European countries. Participants For each country, around 1000 subjects representative of the population aged 15 and over were enrolled. Current cigarette smokers were asked to show their latest purchased pack of cigarettes or hand rolled tobacco. Main outcome measure A comprehensive measure called an Identification of an Illicit Pack (IIP) was used to study the extent of illicit trade, defining a pack as illicit if it had at least one of the following tax evasion indicators (1) it was bought from illicit sources, as reported by smokers, (2) it had an inappropriate tax stamp, (3) it had an inappropriate health warning or (4) its price was substantially below the known price in their market. Results Overall, the proportion of illicit packs was 6.5%. The highest prevalence of IIP was observed in Latvia (37.8%). Illicit packs were more frequent among less educated smokers and among those living in a country which shared a land or sea border with Ukraine, Russia, Moldova or Belarus. No significant association was found with price of cigarettes. Conclusions This study indicates that IIP is less than 7% in Europe and suggests that the supply of illicit tobacco, rather than its price, is a key factor contributing to tax evasion.

Eu law on e-cigarettes has been made on the back of a fag packet : european conservatives and reformists group

ECR MEP Martin Callanan has hit out after the European Parliament voted to heavily over regulate many electronic cigarettes, in a move that he warns is likely to send e cigs users back to more harmful tobacco.

MEPs today held their final vote on the Tobacco Products Directive, which sets out a number of measures to discourage younger people from taking up smoking, such as larger pack warnings and a ban on flavourings. However, MEPs have also voted to introduce 14 pages of new red tape on e cigs (which deliver nicotine using vapour to avoid many of the harmful side effects of smoking such as tar, smoke and carbon monoxide). The new rules will ban refillable e cigs (which comprise a large component of the e cigs market), if only three EU countries ban them. It would also restrict all but the weaker e cigarettes (20 mg/ml nicotine), which would risk cigarette users going back to cigarettes in order to achieve the same nicotine hit .

Mr Callanan has fought a long campaign for e cigarettes to be regulated in a manner proportionate to the evidence that exists on them. He has received thousands of emails and letters from users who argue that the products have enabled them to move off of tobacco.

Last October, when the matter first came to a vote in the parliament, Conservative MEPs fought off efforts to force e cigs to undergo a medicinal authorisation procedure that would have placed many small manufacturers under threat. However, despite the vote of the parliament in favour of e cigs, the Commission and a few MEPs took it upon themselves to add a whole new article to the directive during the late night closed doors negotiations between the parliament and national governments seeking the agreement necessary to pass the proposals into law.

Speaking after today’s vote, which is expected to become law by 2016, Mr Callanan said

“E cigs are not healthy, but they are surely far better for you than smoking tobacco. We have fought for sensible regulation on e cigs that recognises the role they have played in taking many thousands of people off of smoking.

“The parliament voted for e cigs to be lightly regulated until we know what regulation might be required. Yet sneaky MEPs and commission officials sneaked a whole raft of red tape into back room negotiations without discussing them with e cigs users or other MEPs. We have drafted huge parts of this law on the back of a fag packet with decisions about smoke filled rooms ironically being made in smoke filled rooms in Brussels.

“The majority of the Tobacco Products Directive is on the zealous end of the scale but we could have accepted it. However, what we could not accept is the draconian restrictions on e cigs that were adopted. I believe we have completely failed to deliver the aim of discouraging smoking. By making it harder for smokers to get hold of e cigs of the strength they require, we just increase the chance of them resuming smoking tobacco.”