The Senior Global Director, Anti-Illegal Trade, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Ian Monteith, has called on governments to employ a holistic approach to addressing the issue of illegal trade.
Monteith urged governments to carry out a more widespread awareness campaign discouraging consumers from patronising illegal products.
He gave this advice while speaking on the theme, ‘Anti-Illicit Trade and Getting to Net Zero: Sustainable Strategies to Stamp out Illegal Trade of Tobacco Product.’
He added that illegal trade negatively impacted the revenue of consumers, who are lured into purchasing sub-standard goods.
He said, “So, COVID has not prevented criminals from profiting. It rather put a pressure on consumers purchasing power and push them to turn to illegal products. That’s why we need more coordinated approach and a combination of partnerships fighting the underlying causes as well consequences and symptoms.
“Without demand there is no supply. One important action is to educate consumers that with every illegal pack they buy they support criminal groups. Global community campaigns are required.
“Some consumers believe illegal tobacco is a victimless crime. We need to inform them of the broader social impact of buying illicit products from criminal groups. Many of these groups also traffic people and weapons, with far-reaching consequences for society.
“Illegal trade impacts everyone: farmers, millions of retailers, and hundreds of thousands of suppliers to consumers. The loss of revenue to law-abiding people is significant, as is the impact on consumers lured into buying sub-standard products.
“Governments should take a holistic approach when tackling illegal trade. Excessive regulation and sudden and sharp tax increases incentivize illicit trade. Law enforcement is effective only if reasonable and balanced policies are in place.
“As governments seek to revitalize the economy, they should consider the possible pitfall of sharp tax hikes or additional taxation designed to change behaviors around lifestyle choices and the environment that drive down affordability.
“Japan Tobacco International has been advocating for increased cooperation among countries’ intelligent agencies to stop illicit trade across borders, cooperation with enhanced intelligence sharing between law enforcement agencies (LEAs) needs to be supported by the private sectors.”