The sale of illegal cigarettes in Greece has increased very much, estimated at some 3.5 billion euros every year for 2010 and 2011, an quantity which corresponds to almost 15 per cent of the legal tobacco market, according to Spyros Flengas, the head of the Association of Hellenic Tobacco Industries. In a bid to combat the phenomenon that prevents the state of millions of euros in tax income and tobacco companies of an important amount of income, the Papastratos cigarette maker has offered to deliver special seminars for police officers that investigate contraband cigarettes, as well as furnish special equipment that can detect unlawful products, as part of an contract with the Public Order Ministry.

Flengas declared that the World Health Organization’s protocol wished to eliminate of the illegal smoking products trade, to be finished by the end of 2012, provides for the company to establish a global tracking and tracing system for its all tobacco products within three years from the signing of the agreement. The marking of the smoking products will have to expose the authenticity of the tobacco product, its production date, the machine that has produced it and the identity of its first recipient.

Prior to the onset of the financial crisis in Greece the illicit cigarette market accounted for just 3 per cent of sales, given that legally sold products were comparatively cheap. But economic state developments have led to tobacco consumers turning increasingly to contraband products while the legal tobacco market decreased at an alarming pace.

The domestic tobacco company estimates that the legal market has heat in the two years from January 2010 to December 2011 by a total of 25 per cent, while the first couple of months of 2012 saw an additional decrease of almost 10 per cent, despite a significant decline in the price of expensive legal tobacco products, averaging approximately 12.5 per cent, that applied for the first time in December 2011. State incomes from cigarettes taxation quantity to 3.6 billion euros in 2011.

Tobacco company authorities are telling Kathimerini that contraband cigarette has continued of control and is threatening the very viability of cigarette makers.