Research project into improvement of fight against illicit tobacco trade


By means of a multidisciplinary approach, prof. John Vervaele is going to examine how enforcement could be improved when it comes to combating the illicit tobacco trade within the EU, particularly where ‘cheap whites’ from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are concerned.

Initially, prof. Vervaele submitted his research project on 'The enforcement dimension of the fight against the illicit tobacco trade in Europe’ with consent of the university to a grant programme of a tobacco company. Afterward, the university decided to fund the programme herself, because of the societal relevance of the research project. The project costs are approximately 360.000 euro. It will last for two years.  

Three main research questions will be addressed: How do national authorities enforce prohibition of illicit tobacco trade, how can the EU develop new policies improving the enforcement against illicit tobacco trade, and how can the EU influence the conduct of states and private actors outside of EU borders? In order to answer these questions, the project will provide a legal and empirical comparison between EU member states, between the EU and the US approach, and between various EU policy areas.

According to prof. Vervaele the study is of great social importance. “There is broad agreement, including amongst organizations like the WHO, that control of illicit trade benefits tobacco control and public health and result in broader benefits for governments”, said prof. Vervaele. “The results of the proposed study can help to eliminate and reduce the issue of illicit tobacco trade and thereby improve public health.” Parties of note who will be using the results of the study include policymakers (EU and national), customs services, police, the Public Prosecution Service and the judiciary.”