OVER 600 billion cigarettes are traded illicitly on the world cigarette market every year resulting in government revenue loss of over $71.4bn globally.
This was the reality of the illicit tobacco trade highlighted at the opening of a two-day workshop on the issue by Customs general manager Jone Louie yesterday.
"The challenges associated with the illicit tobacco trade are becoming more complex.
"In addition to the vast amounts of government revenue loss, illicit tobacco trade also affects the economic and social fabric of our society," Mr Louie said in a statement.
"It obstructs economic development, undermines government policy objectives and the rule of law.
"It funds organised crime, terrorism and encourages the expansion in criminal activity.
"Significant investments by the legitimate tobacco industry towards manufacturing, innovation, employment, branding and intellectual property rights are undermined."
Mr Louie confirmed there have been cases of illicit tobacco trade in Fiji.