On 18-19 November 2020, the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) held an online meeting of the Task Force Tobacco (TFT), bringing together representatives of law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, EU agencies such as Europol and OLAF, as well as Ukrainian Tobacco Association “Ukrtutun” and the major cigarette producers.

The event provided an excellent opportunity for the participants to share their experience and exchange views on trends, modus operandi, risks, and countermeasures for preventing illicit tobacco trade.

It was noted that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant decrease in the small-scale cigarette smuggling, though it did not affect the large-scale illicit whites trafficking by transnational organised crime groups. To effectively address those risks, TFT emphasised the need of further strengthening institutions’ legal enforcement capabilities, in addition to introducing appropriate penalisation of excisable goods smuggling and deterrent and punitive measures into criminal laws.