Greek consumers smoked more smuggled cigarettes than all other Europeans in 2018, with one in every four smoked last year in Greece being contraband, according to the Stella Report by KPMG presented on Thursday in Athens.
Out of the 43.6 billion illegal cigarettes smoked across the European Union last year, 3.9 billion were in Greece, where 23.6 percent of cigarettes smoked were contraband, an increase of 5.6 percentage points over 2017. This means that the rate of illegal cigarettes in Greece was almost three times the 8.6 percent average in the EU.
The swing of consumers to contraband tobacco not only poses a risk to their health but also state revenues, according to the Stella Report presented at the Illicit Cigarettes Trade Conference: Contraband cigarettes cost the public coffers 700 million euros last year, an increase of 40 percent compared to the 500 million euros in lost revenues in 2017. This cost adds up to 10 billion euros in EU states.
KPMG also found that some 2.6 billion illegal cigarettes were produced in Greece, of which 1 billion concerned counterfeit smokes that are manufactured and sold illegally in Greece. The other 1.6 billion are the so-called “illicit white” cigarettes, produced legally in Greece and exported illegally, without the payment of tax.