Euromonitor’s latest global briefing on the illicit trade in tobacco products assesses the nature, impact and logistics of the 570 billion stick, US$39 billion global market in illicit cigarettes. It outlines how the illicit trade in cigarettes, while often seen as, if not a victimless crime, a misdemeanor which the victims (arrogant tobacco conglomerates and capricious governments) deserve, is in fact a phenomenon which damages the best interests of a range of public and private organisations, including its consumers.
While price is of course the infamous key determinant of demand for illicit products one of the enabling factors discussed in the report is the existence of constraining regulation which creates absences in the legal market. An example of this is the potential for increase in illicit trade from the forthcoming ban on menthol cigarette products in the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive. However, the report goes on to look at the existing and potential de facto illicit trade in electronic cigarettes rooted in restrictive regulation, in particular of nicotine liquid.