The illegal tobacco trade comprises largely of tobacco products manufactured, supplied, distributed and sold without the payment of applicable taxes.
Tobacco is one of the most extensively smuggled legal substances in the world, funding an underworld of organised crime.
It includes unauthorized products smuggled across borders, locally produced tax evaded products and counterfeits.
The danger of any illicit trade is that such products are manufactured and sold without any quality or other controls and often the proceeds of such trades finance the activities of criminal gangs presenting complex problems for the Government and the legitimate industry.
Research indicates that up to 660 billion cigarettes are traded illegally across the globe annually. That’s up to 12% of world consumption. It is estimated that globally Governments lose US$40 billion in revenue from unpaid taxes due to the illegal cigarette trade.
In 2014, an estimated 30 million illegal cigarette sticks were confiscated and destroyed in Sri Lanka, under the supervision of law enforcement authorities.
Read our key messages on illicit tobacco in Sri Lanka: