Major increases in the counterfeit and smuggling segments in Romania
5 times more contraband cigarettes seized in the Southern part of the country as compared to 2022
- Romanian authorities seized more than 90 million smuggled cigarettes in the first 9 months of the year, valued at more than €15 million on the black market.
- The seizures volume almost doubled, as compared to the same period of 2022, according to StopContrabanda.ro platform.
- The Southern area registers a 26% share of total contraband cigarette seizures in 2023, with over 24 million contraband cigarettes seized, 5 times more versus the same period in 2022.
- At the same time, according to the authorities` data, more than €60 million worth of counterfeit goods have been seized in Romania this year.
- BAT’s objective is to build A Better Tomorrow™, which involves supporting efforts to combat illicit trafficking activities.
Bucharest, September 25nd, 2023 – Romanian authorities seized more than 90 million contraband cigarettes in the first nine months of 2023, almost double the volume of seizures recorded in the same period last year. Their total value on the black market is more than €15 million, according to data centralized on www.stopcontrabanda.ro, the only real-time centralizer of contraband cigarette seizures in Romania. BAT is launching a new information campaign on the legislative framework and the risks of smuggling and counterfeiting, in partnership with the Romanian Border Police and the Romanian Customs Authority.
Trafficking in counterfeit products tripled in the first six months of 2023, according to the analysis of the Romanian Border Police activity for the first half of 2023. Among the most frequently counterfeited products are cigarettes, clothing, footwear and cosmetics. Each sale of a counterfeit product generates losses to the state budget, representing a real danger to consumers` safety.
BAT, a dedicated partner of the authorities in the fight against smuggling and counterfeiting
BAT is launching this year a new information campaign on the legal framework and the risks of smuggling and counterfeiting to individual and community safety. From the 21st of September, all border and customs posts will provide information materials on the quantities of cigarettes that can be carried into the EU and non-EU areas, the legal penalties in case of smuggling and counterfeiting and elements regarding the identification of illegal and counterfeit products. The campaign is run in partnership with the Romanian Border Police and the Romanian Customs Authority.
“In the context of the current year’s data showing an alarming increase in criminal activity and the diversification of methods of placing smuggled and counterfeit products on the market, the key priorities on the country’s public agenda should be consumer safety, curbing the criminal networks phenomena and ensuring the sustainability of the state budget revenues. We strongly believe in continuous and correct information on the risks of smuggling and counterfeiting and we continue to support the authorities’ efforts to fight these phenomena with severe implications on economic development and community safety”, says Ileana Dumitru, Legal and Public Affairs Director, South Eastern Europe Area in BAT.
Amid intense efforts to combat illicit activities at the border, BAT, the largest player in the Romanian tobacco market, paid a total contribution of 10.5 billion lei (€2.1 billion) in excise duties and taxes to the state budget last year. This amount ads to BAT’s €24 billion direct contribution to the state budget in its first 25 years of activity on the local market.
“The large-scale actions carried out to combat smuggling are reflected in the data recorded in the first eight months of this year, with very good results consisting of significant seizures of cigarettes and the dismantling of organized crime networks. Between January and August, 3.4 million packs of cigarettes worth 62.7 million lei and over 27 tons of raw and hookah tobacco were seized for confiscation. Efforts to reduce the phenomenon of illegal trafficking will continue with the same level of support, in cooperation with all state institutions with competencies in the fight against smuggling, as well as with the industry partners “, said the Inspector General of the Border Police, Police Superintendent IVAȘCU Victor-Ștefan.
The Romanian Customs Authority and BAT renewed on 8 September 2022 the cooperation protocol signed in 2014, establishing a general framework for intensifying joint efforts to prevent and combat the smuggling of tobacco products, the illicit manufacture, trade and distribution of counterfeit tobacco products, as well as for establishing the modalities of cooperation and exchange of information and assistance.
Operational experience has shown us that illicit trafficking in excise products is a phenomenon that can be effectively combated through collaboration and partnership and the Romanian Customs Authority is constantly carrying out specific actions to combat illegal trafficking in cigarettes and tobacco products, using the means at its disposal, including the collaboration with law enforcement institutions and authorities and international authorities (OLAF, EUROPOL, SELEC, World Customs Organization).
The illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products is a global, complex phenomenon and constitutes a permanent threat to the competitiveness of the legal, domestic and European markets, which is likely to substantially affect the consolidated state budget of each Member State, the financial interests of the European Union and, equally, the illicit trade in cigarettes. Illicit trade causes significant financial losses due to non-payment of customs duties and other taxes, including value-added tax (VAT) and excise duties.
The 3 largest seizures of smuggled cigarettes were recorded this year in the counties of Arad, Giurgiu and Valcea, with the volumes seized in these counties accounting for over 70% of the total seizures in the first 9 months of 2023.
This year, Romanian authorities also deconstructed major groups involved in counterfeiting tobacco products, particularly in the southern parts of the country. At mid-year, following raids in Ilfov, Calarasi and Dolj counties, the authorities uncovered groups that had organized and smuggled 64 shipments of almost 330 tons of raw tobacco into Romania for processing in various clandestine establishments. In August, two clandestine tobacco processing plants and more than 2,000 kilograms of tobacco, of which about 600 kilograms were already processed, were also discovered.
Data on the evolution of cigarette seizures in Romania are centralized in real time on www.stopcontrabanda.ro, a BAT initiative that aims to support the authorities by centralizing information on contraband cigarettes’ seizures across the country, and also to inform consumers about to the effects of cigarette smuggling on society. The campaign is carried out in partnership with the Romanian Police, the Romanian Border Police, the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) and the General Directorate of Customs. “Stop Contrabanda” campaign was launched in 2017 by BAT to create a single information point on illicit cigarettes seizures and cigarette smuggling.
About BAT in Romania
- BAT, the biggest player in the Romanian tobacco market, has generated an impact of more than 125 billion euros in the economy in the first 25 years of presence on the local market. Of this amount, around 24 billion euros represents direct contribution to the state budget in the form of taxes and excise duties (Civitta Study, 2021)
- BAT is one of the Romania’s biggest taxpayers, with a total contribution of 10.5 billion lei (2,1 billion euros) in excise and taxes to the state budget in 2022.
- The company’s total investments in its Ploiesti factory have surpassed the €500 million threshold since its construction in 1996.
- BAT has 3,000 employees in the three local entities and generates another 30,000 jobs indirectly, in its value chain.
- Romania has 2,000 km of border with non-EU countries, where the price of tobacco can be up to three times lower, and each container of illegal cigarettes means a million euros in profit for smuggling networks. Interpol data shows that illicit cigarette trafficking is a catalyst for drug, arms, people and even terrorist activities.
BAT is a leading, multi-category consumer goods business with a purpose to build A Better Tomorrow™ by reducing the health impact of its business through offering a greater choice of enjoyable and less risky products for adult consumers.
The company continues to be clear that combustible cigarettes pose serious health risks, and the only way to avoid these risks is not to start or to quit. BAT encourages those who would otherwise continue to smoke to switch completely to scientifically-substantiated, reduced-risk alternatives*†. In order to deliver this, BAT is transforming into a truly consumer-centric multi-category consumer products business.
BAT’s ambition is to have 50 million consumers of its non-combustible products by 2030 and to generate £5billion of New Categories revenue by 2024. BAT has set stretching ESG targets including achieving carbon neutrality for Scopes 1 & 2 by 2030 and eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic and making all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
BAT employs over 50,000 people. The BAT Group generated revenue of £27.65 billion in 2022 and profit from operations of £10.5 billion.
The company’s Strategic Portfolio is made up of its global cigarette brands and a growing range of reduced-risk*† New Category tobacco and nicotine products and traditional non-combustible tobacco products. These include vapour, tobacco heating products, modern oral products including tobacco-free nicotine pouches, as well as traditional oral products such as snus and moist snuff. In the first half of 2023, we had 24 million consumers of our non-combustible products, a rise of 1.5 million on full year 2022.
* Based on the weight of evidence and assuming a complete switch from cigarette smoking. These products are not risk free and are addictive.
 Analysis of the activity of the Romanian Border Police in the first semester of 2023, https://www.politiadefrontiera.ro/ro/main/i-analiza-activitatii-politiei-de-frontiera-romane-pe-semestrul-i-al-anului-2023-34209.html
 Cigarettes hidden among luggage, discovered in a coach in P.T.F. Giurgiu, https://stopcontrabanda.ro/tigarete-ascunse-printre-bagaje-descoperite-intr-un-autocar-in-p-t-f-giurgiu-2/
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