For example, the counterfeiting of drugs and medicines are increasing sharply. Estimates by the European Parliament suggest that in the European Union alone this market will grow by 30 percent annually by 2020.
Illicit trade is not just the work of a small operator; organized crime and even terrorist groups are becoming increasingly dominant. Illegal manufacturing facilities and distribution chains have been built and substantial sums invested in technology capable of counterfeiting even the most sophisticated business and government security markers. Governments across Europe are partially successful in fighting such criminal structures but it is becoming increasingly expensive.
The result: smuggled, counterfeit and tax-evaded products are ever more available and the squeeze on government tax revenues continues to grow. Cigarettes and other tobacco products are an essential part of this phenomenon. According to experts, illicit cigarettes and other tobacco products constitute at least 10% of the total European market and cost us around €60 billion.
Since 2010, the tobacco industry has been developing and promoting their own "in house" solution called Codentify. By their own account, Codentify solves the problem of illicit trade and is "a technological breakthrough for the 21st Century". This system uses advanced digital coding technology printed directly onto product packaging which can effectively replace current methods. Although the absurdity of giving the big tobacco companies the trust they don't deserve to self regulate is deeply concerning, there is a greater dilemma. We have been made aware that Codentify is a flawed system promoted by the industry to prevent other truly effective measures against corruption and illicit trade.
Our next post will aim to expose these flaws in a clear manner so it is evident to our thousands of followers just what is really happening in the tobacco industry in terms of tracking and tracing its products.