Cigarette Smuggling: Poland to Sweden

October 19, 2016, pp. 42

Cigarette smuggling is a multibillion dollar industry which directly feeds off government revenue. Within the European Union (EU) there are losses of around 11.3 billion euro in tax revenue each year as a result of this criminal activity. The unique socioeconomic environment of the EU coupled with the open borders policy provides smugglers with opportunities to make incredible profits. The demand for cheap tobacco products across Europe is high so the illicit production industry is a viable market for many to capitalize on.

Attempts to curtail the trade are weighed down by ineffective legislation and limited resources. The limited legal repercussions and immense profit margins make the cigarette smuggling an incredibly attractive enterprise. Smugglers transport their supply from Poland, Belarus and the Baltic states up to Sweden and Norway where they can make profit margins of up to 1000%. The methods used to transport the contraband can be as intuitive as they are audacious. Ranging from flying in small aircraft into abandoned Swedish airports to smuggling in thousands of cigarettes in a concrete segment of a bridge awaiting construction.

This report explores the extent of the illegal tobacco trade within the EU, detailing how government institutions are affected. There is a special focus on cigarette trends in Poland, which is the prevailing origin of tobacco products within the EU. Through uncovering the plights of the system which allows for illicit trade to flow through, the report provides recommendations for all levels of law enforcement, from local to international, on addressing the growing issue.

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