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Lost revenue estimates from the illicit trade of cigarettes: a 12-country analysis
  1. Raphael Lencucha1,
  2. Cynthia Callard2
  1. 1Faculty of Health Sciences, Bachelor of Public Health Program, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Raphael Lencucha, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Bachelor of Public Health Program, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive West, Lethbridge, T1K 3M4 Canada; raphael.lencucha{at}

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The illicit trade of tobacco products, including domestic tax evasion and avoidance and cross-border smuggling, poses a complex and pressing challenge for the health of the global population. This complexity lies in part with the many avenues for the illegal movement of tobacco across borders.1 The complexity of this challenge is heightened by porous borders in a globalised world.2 3 Unconventional means of tobacco sales, such as the internet, have challenged governments to enhance mechanisms for the monitoring and control of the cross-border movement of these products.4 5 Illicit trade not only undermines health protective measures such as taxation,6 which are proven to reduce tobacco consumption and dissuade individuals from becoming consumers, but also undermines the revenue gained by governments from tobacco taxation.

The Protocol on the Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products is the first to be negotiated within the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.7 There are two points worth noting about this Protocol. First, the cost of developing a system for tracking and tracing tobacco products is substantially borne by the tobacco industry itself.8 Second, a point which is the focus of our study is that the national health and economic gains of supporting and implementing a strong protocol for the control of illicit trade are great. …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.