Association launched to fight illicit trade in tobacco and alcohol

The world’s four largest international tobacco companies have forged a joint venture to fight the illegal trafficking of excisable consumer goods such as tobacco and alcohol.

British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Group, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International have launched the Digital Coding & Tracking Association (DCTA), established to promote international technical standards and develop digital technological solutions to help governments acquire the tools, information and capacity needed to fight the international problem of illicit trade smuggling, counterfeiting and tax evasion.

A statement from the association said that the DCTA draws upon the industry’s collective expertise in securing international supply chains and developing sophisticated technologies to help distinguish genuine product from counterfeit.

The association said that eliminating the illicit trade in cigarettes and alcohol requires international cooperation and smarter tools to help customs, border and tax officials tackle the criminals who engage in the trade. The DCTA said that it offers a proven, secure and cost- effective solution, based on technology brand named Codentify, developed for this purpose.

This digital age technology offers quick and easy access through a mobile phone to all the information governments need to protect tax revenues, verify the legitimacy of shipments and meet international regulatory requirements, including the World Health Organisation’s protocol to eliminate the illicit trade in tobacco.

The spokesperson for the DCTA, Pat Heneghan said, “Today’s legal supply chains are global, complex and involve many parties. When combined with the sophistication of the criminals and terrorists who traffic illicit goods, it means national governments must use the latest advances in technology to secure supply chains if they are to make any real progress in addressing this dangerous and growing problem.”

Heneghan concluded, “With governments looking at ways to secure tax revenues in these austere times and crack-down on the criminals that prosper from the black market, we are certain that the DCTA can provide the technologies and expertise needed to make a real impact,” the statement added.

The association said that “according to independent research, it is estimated that around 12% of the global cigarette market is illicit, equivalent to some 660 billion cigarettes each year, costing national governments more than US$40 billion a year in lost tax revenues. The illicit alcohol trade is also substantial, with the World Health Organisation estimating that around 30% of all alcohol consumed globally is illegally produced, or ‘unrecorded’.”

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