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Improving estimates of the illicit cigarette trade through collaboration: lessons from two studies of Malaysia
  1. Michelle Scollo1,2
  1. 1Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michelle Scollo, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Michelle.Scollo{at}

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All tobacco products are dangerous to human health, including those produced and sold in compliance with tobacco control and excise/customs laws. However, illicit trade in tobacco matters because it harms individual and population health in additional ways. By increasing the affordability and sometimes also the availability of tobacco products, illicit trade can reduce the power of tax increases to encourage individuals who smoke to cut consumption or quit altogether.1–3 Because they are more likely to smoke and tend to be more price sensitive, illicit tobacco disproportionately increases avoidable disease and premature deaths among those who are most socially disadvantaged.

Accurately quantifying the extent of illicit trade in tobacco also matters. It matters because tobacco companies exaggerate it.3 4 And concern about loss of revenue may dissuade governments from adopting effective policy measures. More accurately, quantifying illicit trade in tobacco reduces the tobacco …

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  • Contributors MS was the sole author of this piece.

  • Competing interests No, there are no competing interests.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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