World No Tobacco Day

29 May 2015

The World Customs Organization (WCO) joins the World Health Organization (WHO) in marking on 31 May 2015 World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) under the theme “Stop illicit trade of tobacco products.”

The WCO has long been a leader in the fight against the illicit trade in tobacco products through the development of instruments and tools, as well as the coordination of law enforcement actions.

The WCO’s annual Illicit Trade Report, among other things, describes general trends and patterns of the illicit trade of tobacco including the continued diversification of smuggling routes. The report highlights numerous large-scale smuggling cases which resulted in seizures of more than 10 million pieces of cigarettes.

Initiated and coordinated by the WCO, 93 Customs administrations took part in Operation GRYPHON which began on 1 October 2014 and ran for six months, focusing on the application of core Customs legislation, powers and competencies across the entire range of Customs control and clearance processes, including checks being conducted on duty-free outlets, free zones, stores, bonded warehouses, and means of transport.  The operation resulted in an enormous amount of seizures.

The WCO and WHO are active partners in combating the illicit trade in tobacco products, especially by implementation of the principles of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Protocol.  Following the signing of a WCO-WHO Statement of Intent in March 2014 to expand co-operation, the two inter-governmental organizations are, among other things, raising awareness about the FCTC Protocol, sharing knowledge and technical expertise, as well as building capacities and promoting dialogue and coordination between Customs and health authorities.

“The WCO continues to cooperate closely with the WHO in our joint efforts to stop the illicit trade in tobacco products” said WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya.  He added that “although Customs and other revenue agencies worldwide collect substantial amounts of tobacco taxes, we will not rest until there is full compliance with the law and an end to tobacco tax evasion.”