Tobacco Smuggling Soars In Greece



tsigaraWith the government increasing taxes across the board, more Greeks are turning to buying smuggled tobacco products, costing the country at least 600 million euros ($780.5 million) in lost revenues from 2011-12, a survey by the Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) has found.

That occurred even as the rate of smoking in Greece, the highest in the European Union, has begun to fall off, even though Greece hasn’t enforced five smoking bans in the last 10 years and most people light up wherever they want, including in public buildings, where it is allegedly prohibited. That includes clerks who smoke while serving customers.

KEPE noted a survey done by AC Nielsen in Greece in April 2013, according to which it is estimated that tobacco trafficking consists 18.6 percent of the total consumption, compared to 7.3 percent at the end of the year 2010. Cigarette smugglers routinely can be seen selling their goods in broad daylight in major centers of Athens, including near police stations.

The Finance Ministry said it’s costly, showing a drop in tobacco revenues from 3.4 billion euros ($4.42 billion) in 2011 to 2.71 billion euros ($3.52 billion) in 2011, a drop of 11 percent just as Greece needed revenues the most to try to offset a crushing economic crisis.

KEPE noted that tobacco smuggling worldwide costs governments more than 30 billion euros ($39 billion) in lost monies, including 12.5 billion euros ($16.26 billion) in Europe alone.