ECONOMY

Half a billion euros in state revenue going up in smoke

The number of smuggled cigarettes consumed in Greece last year was four times as high as the figure for 2008, according to a report conducted by KPMG and released on Wednesday by the Papastratos tobacco company.

This has had a huge negative impact on both the tobacco industry and the state, which is losing up to half a billion euros per year in tax revenues, to say nothing of the impact on the health of smokers, given that those products usually are of unknown origin and questionable quality.

The report’s data showed that in 2012 some 3.1 billion smuggled cigarettes were consumed, amounting to 13.4 percent of total consumption. The phenomenon is showing a disturbing trend toward growth as, according to a Nielsen survey assessing smuggling based on the number of empty packs found this year, the share of cigarettes not originally intended for the Greek market (most of them are illegal) amounted to 15.7 percent of consumption.

The number of smuggled cigarettes in Greece last year was 16 percent higher than 2011 – the biggest rise in the European Union along with that recorded in Great Britain and Italy.