Philip Morris International (PMI) has launched a public education initiative titled United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade to combat black market trade. Supported by a coalition of national and state private and public sector partners, the campaign will provide local officials, law enforcement and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem as well as the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black market profiteers.
The campaign will run through 2021 in eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas.
The coalition’s membership is made up of brand enforcement leaders and other organizations, including Levi Strauss & Co., Procter & Gamble Co. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Illegal trade is a major problem that fuels serious organized criminal networks and damages our economy. No matter the commodity, these criminals will seize any opportunity to exploit markets and communities to bolster their nefarious activities,” said Martin King, CEO of PMI America. “PMI is pleased to be joined by so many cross-sector partners who are leading the fight against illegal trade and the black market criminals profiting at the expense of Americans’ security.”
Counterfeit and smuggled goods pose serious threats in many states, according to PMI. “The situation has only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with criminals seizing on opportunities to traffic all types of counterfeit and illegal products, including highly demanded personal protective equipment. Since January 2020, online counterfeited goods have jumped nearly 40 percent,” the company wrote in a press release.
“In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s only through open dialogue, cooperation and the sharing of best practices between parties in the public and private sectors as well as civil society that we can continuously improve and advance efforts against illegal trade and the criminal networks benefiting from it.”