UK Joins Fight Against Illegal Tobacco Packaging

The United Kingdom has joined the rest of the European Union and signed agreements with major international companies to combat illicit trade in tobacco products.

All 26 EU member states have now signed up to the 2004 anti-contraband and anti-counterfeit agreement with Philip Morris International (PMI) and the 2007 cooperation agreement with Japan Tobacco International (JTI).

“As the agreements now cover the entire territory of the EU, implementation will become even more comprehensive and efficient,” said commission vice president Siim Kallas. “It will be more difficult for illegal traders to find loopholes.”

The European community and a group of 10 member states signed an anti-contraband and anti-counterfeit agreement with PMI on 9 July 2004. These countries included: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

A similar agreement was launched with JTI on 14 December 2007 with 26 participating member states.

Participating producers PMI and JTI are obliged to make payments in the event of future seizures in the European Community of genuine product above a set quantity.

Under the agreement, participating producers are required to build on their existing review processes for selecting and monitoring customers, enhance track and trace of certain packaging and provide support to law enforcement in battle against illegal trade in cigarettes.

The producers have also agreed to continue to limit their sales to volumes in line with “legitimate” market demand.

Members of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) in the UK signed up to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on tackling tobacco in 2006.

The MoU outlines the steps the companies will take to ensure their products are supplied to fulfil legitimate demand; the information on trading patterns that is to be made available to Customs and how the companies will assist Customs with the tracking and Tracing of seized products.

JTI is the only one of the TMA’s members, which includes BAT and Imperial that is signed up to the European Union agreements.

Source –, April 2009

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