At least 20 percent of cigarettes smoked in France were not bought from traditional tabacco shops, a survey by KPMG advisory firm says.
Over 15 percent of these cigarettes have been smuggled into the country, while 5 percent were legally bought abroad by travellers for their own personal consumption, AFP reports.
KPMG says organised crime groups operate cigarette trafficking networks and adds that smuggling has slightly increased over the past two years.
Renaud Gaillard, a public affairs official with Philip Morris International, told AFP that cigarette trafficking undermined public health polices. He says smugglers “deceive consumers, reduce tax collections for the state and finance organised crime.”
The French government has announced it is increasing taxes on cigarettes by 6 percent this autumn. Gaillard says it’s important authorities fight trafficking as the price of cigarettes goes up.
Every years, smoking-related illnesses kill 73,000 people in France.