Millions more cigarettes seized in 2009

The Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) and Customs intercepted over 209 million illegal cigarettes in 2009. This is five million more than in 2008. In addition, 320 kilos of cigarette en pipe tobacco and 163 kilos of water pipe tobacco were seized.

More than half of the total amount of intercepted cigarettes were found in the Netherlands. The majority of the cigarettes came from China. "If all intercepted cigarettes and tobacco had been brought on the Dutch market, the Dutch Treasury would have missed out on over 36 million euros," said the Minister of Finance, Jan Kees de Jager.

Apart from fiscal fraud, the manufacturer's trademark rights are often infringed as well. It could be established with certainty of more than 105 million cigarettes (51 percent) that they were counterfeit. It was apparent of 98 percent of the more than 47 million cigarettes seized destined for the Netherlands that they had counterfeit brands. Minister De Jager: "Tracking down counterfeit cigarettes continues to be an important priority for the FIOD and Customs. By tightening the inspections and improving the cooperation with other EU Member States and cigarette manufacturers, we wish to push back this form of fraud more and more."

Cheap whites

Over 97 million cigarettes involve so-called cheap whites. Cheap whites are cigarette brands registered in none of the Member States of the European Union and having no legal home market in the EU. The packaging of these brands does not comply with the European requirements, either. The interim storage and further transport of these cigarettes is effected in and from the Netherlands and Belgium. Most cheap whites are found by the FIOD and Customs in smuggling activities to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Health

It is apparent from research by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) that, on average, the amount of cadmium in counterfeit cigarettes is five times higher and the amount of lead is six times higher than in authentic cigarettes. In the Netherlands, the consumption of counterfeit cigarettes shows a considerable decrease of 4 percent in 2005 to 0.9 percent in 2008. Minister De Jager: "The quality of counterfeit cigarettes is generally bad. That is probably why consumers increasingly opt for authentic cigarettes."