Last year, no less than 330 million illegal cigarettes were smoked in Belgium, an increase of 10% over a year. The findings come in a study by the consultancy, KPMG UK, around the illegal trade in cigarettes in the European Union, Norway and Sweden.
Cigarette manufacturers say that the consumption of counterfeit cigarettes in Belgium is even thought to have multiplied by a factor of four in the space of a year, going from 9 million to 35 million units. Relying upon this European study, cigarette manufacturers draw a series of conclusions in respect of Belgium.
Thus, in 2017, some 8.78 billion cigarettes were smoked in the country. The figure is 220 million less than one year previously. However, simultaneously, the share of illegal cigarettes as a proportion of overall consumption increased, going from 300 million units in 2016 to 330 million in 2017.
The increase in the consumption of illegal cigarettes has deprived the Belgian Treasury of at least €76 million, according to the manufacturers. They assess the number of illegal cigarettes at 44.7 billion across the entire EU, defrauding European countries of €10 billion in total.