In 2020, five illegal cigarette factories were dismantled in Belgium (including one in Brussels and one in Hainaut), four illegal shisha tobacco factories (including two in Brussels), one tobacco cutting site, two cigarette packaging sites (in Limburg) and six storage sites (including one in Brussels). Also in 2020, 32 people directly linked to illicit production on Belgian soil were arrested.
This high traffic in Belgium is “a problem that concerns the entire European Union,” according to Florence Angelici, spokeswoman of the FPS Finance.
A 2019 KPMG study showed that “the main destinations of contraband cigarettes are the United Kingdom (19.3% of cigarettes consumed in this country are contraband) and France (14.1%),” she said.
“The high excise rates in these two countries explain, in part, the attractiveness of these markets to smugglers. The presence of production sites on Belgian soil can be explained by the proximity of these two destination markets.”