The use of Internet and social media for illicit trade in tobacco products in Europe: A brief review of scientific literature, law enforcement strategy documents and commercial research reports
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Maria Sklodowska-Curie National Research Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
Collegium Civitas, Warsaw, Poland
Publication date: 2020-10-22
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(Supplement):A81
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The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products also addresses the new challenges in preventing the illicit tobacco trade. A range of scientific studies and commercial reports have indicated on increasing exploitation of internet, on-line delivery service and social media for the illicit tobacco trade.

To evaluate the current status of knowledge on the use of internet and social media for illicit tobacco trade and the approach to combat illicit trade.

Materials and Methods:
A brief review was conducted of over 80 existing academic papers, government policy documents, law enforcement strategy documents and commercial research reports on organized crime and the illicit tobacco trade in Europe. The search for the above documents was done on Google Scholar, Worldwide Science, Medline, PubMed and on the Directory of the Open Access Journals, as well as websites of international organizations combating illicit tobacco trade.

Our research demonstrates that the growth of e-commerce has had a significant and increasing impact on the illicit tobacco trade. Illegal tobacco products are now readily available to purchase with little effort and minimal risk through online marketplaces, cryptomarkets, purpose-built hosted websites, social media platforms or even dark internet. When using internet tools, a small number of sellers are responsible for a large proportion of all illicit cross-border sales without legal control.

Most countries are not well prepared in legal, technical and administrative terms to combat illegal tobacco trade through the internet and social media and need to undertake comprehensive and collaborative counteractions by governments, commercial companies, other stakeholders and organized groups of internet and social media users to combat this phenomenon.

Individual grant for academic researchers offered within the World Health Organization pilot research project on raising awareness about illicit tobacco trade in the European Union and promoting the ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.
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