Tobacco companies have called on the government of Ukraine to crack down on the illegal cigarette trade, reports Interfax Ukraine.
Speaking during a roundtable discussion organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, Philip Morris Ukraine General Manager Maksym Barabash noted that war, inflation and the associated drop in consumer incomes had accelerated the growth of the illegal tobacco market in Ukraine.
In August 2022 alone, the share of illegal tobacco products grew by 5 percentage points to 21.9 percent from 16.9 percent in 2021. According to Barabash, the state misses out on UAH44 ($1.19) from each illegal pack of cigarettes. To date in fiscal year 2022, the state budget has already lost UAH20.6 billion in unpaid tobacco taxes.
To facilitate the fight against illegal cigarettes, tobacco companies proposed the creation of a joint working group with a coordination center in the Office of the President.
“Countering illegal turnover of tobacco products belongs to the competence of several regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” said Svitlana Sharamok, general manager of Japan Tobacco International Ukraine. “However, due to the unclear division of powers, these agencies do not always work in a coordinated manner and sometimes even compete with each other.”
Sharamok added that the work of the new group should not be judged by the number of raids or confiscated cigarettes but by the decrease in illegal sales.