Webinar 3 - The illicit trade in tobacco products and evidence to counter the arguments against tobacco taxes

Webinar 3 - The illicit trade in tobacco products and evidence to counter the arguments against tobacco taxes
llicit trade in tobacco products
  • DAY: Thursday, July 1st 2021
  • TIME: 11:00 am EDT  [check here for your time zone]
  • DURATION: 120 minutes

The illicit trade increases the accessibility and affordability of tobacco products, thus fueling the tobacco epidemic and undermining tobacco control policies. Likewise, it undermines fiscal and price measures designed to reinforce efforts to reduce tobacco consumption and could also contribute to financing criminal activities.  

Reports indicate that many illicit tobacco products are produced by legitimate tobacco manufacturers and enter the market illegally, thus rendering the necessity for constant monitoring of the tobacco industry's attempts to undermine or distort strategies aimed at combating the illicit trade in tobacco products. 

Countering the illicit trade in tobacco products is a fundamental aspect of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy. The region of the Americas urgently needs to develop scientific, technical, and institutional capacity in order to plan and implement appropriate national, regional, and global measures to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products. 

The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products is the answer in the fight against the illicit trade in tobacco products. The ratification of this treaty is a challenge in itself given that only six countries in the Region are Parties in it and there has been little progress in recent years. 

The tobacco industry uses the illicit trade as an argument to oppose tobacco control, particularly increasing tobacco taxes. However, the scientific evidence shows that fiscal and price policies actually have a limited impact and that other factors, such as governance and tobacco product supply chain control, are more determinant drivers of the illicit trade in tobacco products. Likewise, robust, transparent, and independent studies, designed to measure the size of the illicit trade in cigarettes in the Region, have found that the figures used by the tobacco industry tend to be overestimated. 

Additionally, the tobacco industry and its affiliates wage other arguments against tobacco taxes, such as their potential negative impact on tax revenues, unemployment, and the poor. However, the global and regional evidence, which will be presented during this session, demonstrates that these arguments are either false or grossly exaggerated, and do not justify inaction.


About Webinar 3

Objectives of the session:

  • Present the arguments against tobacco taxes and the scientific evidence to counter them. 
  • Discuss robust methodologies to measure the size of the illicit trade in tobacco products and present results of independent measurement studies. 
  • Discuss experiences in applying measures to eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco products in the Region. 


Target Audiences

  1. Member States government officials involved in the design, monitoring, and evaluation of tobacco tax policies from Ministries of Finance, Economy, Trade, or Tax Administration and Customs agencies. 
  2. FCTC focal points from the Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, and other government officials involved in tobacco control. 
  3. Economists (civil society and academia) and activists working on tobacco control in the Region of the Americas. 


Agenda session 3 MPOWER training