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Economy

Smuggled Cigarettes Make Up 22% of Greece’s Tobacco Consumption

ATHENS — Unable to stop or substantially slow the sale of contraband cigarettes – sometimes sold openly on the streets of Greece’s capital – the products now account for 22 percent of tobacco use in the country, some 3 billion sold annually.

That kept Greece, which has one of the world’s highest smoking rates, ranked first in the European Union for the products that no government has been able to stop despite occasional raids, such as those on three processing factories this spring.

A pan-European report was made public after that, with a survey by The Netherland’s accounting firm KPMG for Philip Morris showing some 38.9 billion contraband cigarettes were consumed across Europe in 2019.

Most were bootleg versions of popular brands as well as others packaged legally in third countries but then smuggled across Europe without a license, known as illicit whites, said Kathimerini about the findings.

About 1.51 billion bootleg cigarettes were consumed in 2019 in Greece and another 1.66 billion illicit whites, sometimes sold individually as well as in packs and hawked on the streets, often by migrants to make money.

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