Piatra Neamţ, April 13, 2016 - "Break the chain! Cigarette smuggling is illegal!” - a new campaign to raise public awareness of the negative effects of the trade in illicit tobacco products, was launched today at the Piatra Neamţ Customs Office. Carried out by Euromonitor Business Consulting Services, via, in partnership with the Border Police, the Romanian Police and the General Directorate of Customs of the National Agency for Fiscal Administration, and with support from JTI, the campaign is running from March until June in ten counties along the north-east, northern, western, and south-western borders, as well as in Bucharest. The message, which will reach the public via printed press, street banners, and TV ads, emphasizes that illicit trade can be stopped if smokers refuse to buy contraband cigarettes, thus stopping the perpetuation of a corrupt system. The buyer can "break the chain" of smuggling!

"In January 2016, the North-Eastern region was the worst affected by the illicit cigarette trade, with a black market share of 36.8%, although this was a decrease on the November 2015 figure by over 10 percent. The north-west and western regions also hold significant shares, although they have been falling (28.3% and 26.7%, respectively)", said Marian Marcu, General Manager of Novel Research.

"We are launching the new public campaign in border regions, as these areas have always been the most vulnerable to smuggling. The 'Break the chain!' message aims to communicate that a system cannot function without the wheels that keep it in motion, and the buyer is one of these wheels. Each one of us has the power to stop the illicit cigarette trade if we refuse to buy smuggled products. We can break the chain! This way, the entire society wins, because a smuggling network means organized crime and less money for the state. In neighboring countries which are not EU members, and which have lower taxes than the European Community, the price of a pack of cigarettes is 5-6 times less than in Romania. Consequently, the profit that smugglers make is huge, and the losses to the community are directly proportional", declared Cristina Vasiloiu, General Manager of Euromonitor Business Consulting Services.

"The study carried out by Novel Research shows that the illicit cigarette trade is growing slightly, indicating the need to increase efforts to fight the phenomenon. Cigarette smuggling is the main area of fraud around the northern and north-eastern borders. In the first two months of the year, over 700,000 cigarettes were seized, with the most important busts occurring on the borders with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova (e.g. 230,000 cigarettes at Siret Customs, 150,000 at Halmeu Customs Office, 10,000 cigarettes at Albița Customs etc.) Apart from intensifying specific operational activities, this year we need to conduct public awareness campaigns with tobacco producers on the negative effects of smuggling in border counties. Moreover, we monitor the training and professional development of mobile canine teams, which are specifically trained to detect cigarettes and cash", said Claudiu Ardeleanu, Head of the General Directorate of Customs, on the occasion of the announcement of the latest Novel study.

"The Romanian Border Police acts in coordination with other divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and public tax bodies to fight smuggling, counterfeit merchandise, and the illicit trade in

tobacco products. The work of the Border Police is not limited exclusively to seizures. Operations are followed by investigations in order to destroy tobacco smuggling networks," said Chief Commissioner Valeriu Bodoga, Head of the Office for the Fight Against Illegal Migration and Cross-Border Crime, part of the Territorial Inspectorate of the Iași Border Police.

"In many villages in Suceava and Botoșani, the proportion of illegal goods is as high as 90%. A pack of cigarettes costing 2.8 RON in Ukraine is sold over the Romanian border for 8 RON. Such public campaigns have visible effects and cause significant decreases in the black market, but only within their targeted regions and time frames. Hence the need for a National Strategy to fight the illicit cigarette trade, which must foresee concrete measures in the following years. This Strategy was repeatedly and publicly demanded both by the authorities and the Competition Council, which, in 2014, upon completion of an investigation in the field, requested the establishment of a Working Group including both fiscal policy makers and regulatory authorities, as well as industry representatives and operational institutions. At the national level, smuggled goods were 17.8% of the total in January, which translates into 600 million EUR in lost revenue to the state. We absolutely need coherent and realistic tobacco policies, and we must emphasize that tobacco is the second biggest contributor to state revenues, with almost 3 billion EUR paid in 2015 in excises, VAT, taxes and contributions", said Gilda Lazăr, Director of Corporate Affairs & Communications, JTI Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria.

The campaign "Break the chain! Cigarette smuggling is illegal!" will be broadcast in partnership with TVR and Amos News and the display of street banners in counties such as Botoșani, Iași, Neamț, Suceava, Maramureș, Timiș, Caraș-Severin, Mehedinți, Dolj, Olt and Bucharest.

The most important information and communication materials are displayed on the platform. "Break the chain! Cigarette smuggling is illegal!" is the fifth regional public campaign initiated by Euromonitor Business Consulting Services. The previous campaigns resulted in notable decreases of the illicit cigarette trade in the targeted regions and time frames.


For over 10 years, Euromonitor Business Consulting Services has been providing consulting services in areas such as business development policies and strategies in Central and Eastern Europe, interim management in the corporate business sector and crisis management, as well as mentoring and coaching programs for top managers, focusing on leadership issues and professional development. As of 2010, under the umbrella of Euromonitor Conferences, the company has organized, both in Romania and abroad, a series of events to focus public opinion on phenomena which jeopardize the consolidation of a healthy economic environment in the region, cigarette smuggling being a concrete example. As of 2010, Euromonitor Business Consulting Services hosts the website.

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