Connections: Explaining the Factors Driving Illicit Flows of Cigarettes

Alberto Aziani, Cecilia Meneghini, Marco Dugato

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Cigarette trafficking is a global and complex crime. In the EU MSs, 40 billion illicit cigarettes are consumed originating from 128 countries spread across five continents. Most of these cigarettes originate from non-EU countries where cigarette prices are low, and there are weaknesses in the law enforcement, control, and regulatory systems. Like cigarette trafficking itself, research on the topic must extend beyond national and regional borders. This transnational dimension calls for an analysis that considers the interaction between multiple countries to reveal, understand, and monitor cigarette trafficking in the EU. In particular, it should account for a wider context including the non-EU countries that are involved in the production, transit and consumption of illicit cigarettes. Only the combination of local and macro-regional perspectives enables the identification of the main factors behind the transnational illicit flows of cigarettes and the designing of effective policies to curb them. In light of these considerations, ITTP NEXUS in Europe and Beyond includes an analysis of the illicit flows of cigarettes moving through EU countries, by also examining the role of and the connections with relevant countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The project identifies and quantifies these flows and highlights the existing connections within political, legislative and socio-economic frameworks. Through this process, ITTP NEXUS in Europe and Beyond provides an assessment of the enabling factors behind transnational cigarette trafficking. This booklet constitutes the fifth chapter of the ITTP NEXUS in Europe and Beyond Report. It explains the enabling factors driving illicit cigarettes flows: the connections. The connections comprise all the country-level contextual factors and drivers—including key facilitators—of the illicit trade in cigarettes. The term “connections” thus refers to the links between the illicit flows of cigarettes and the contextual factors that are relevant to the European countries and to the countries connected to them in transnational cigarette trafficking. The booklet provides an overview of the driving factors of illicit flows of cigarettes, which are divided among six macro dimensions: political, geographical, regulation and enforcement, socio-economic, cultural, and criminal.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationITTP NEXUS in Europe and Beyond
EditorsAlberto Aziani, Marco Dugato
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Border control
  • Cigarette trafficking
  • Corruption
  • Illicit goods
  • Legislative asymmetries
  • Organized crime
  • Political instability
  • Smuggling
  • Transnational crime


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