Brussels, 1 October 2010

Operation Sirocco 40 million cigarettes seized in joint customs operation

Around 40 million cigarettes, 1 243kg of hand rolled tobacco, 7 038 litres of alcohol and 8 million other counterfeit items including clothing, shoes, toys and electronics, were seized during a joint customs cooperation, coordinated by the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF). Operation Sirocco , which also led to the arrest of 3 suspected cigarette traffickers, was a joint project carried out by the EU and 11 partner countries from the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). The final results of this operation, which was conducted in June 2010, were made public today at a meeting in Amman, Jordan.

Algirdas emeta, Commissioner for taxation, customs, anti fraud and audit, said Customs operations not only safeguard the EU s financial interests but also protect our citizens and legitimate businesses. Operation Sirocco shows the great results we can achieve by working in cooperation with our international partners to combat smuggling and fraud. I would like to congratulate all participants for their efforts in this joint customs operation and strongly encourage more such joint actions in the future.

The joint customs operation code named “SIROCCO” focused on deep sea containers loaded in China or the United Arab Emirates and arriving in countries of the Union for the Mediterranean. The aim of the operation was to identify consignments suspected of containing counterfeit or smuggled genuine cigarettes, as well as other counterfeit and illegal goods. The seizures made during this operation on cigarettes alone averted potential losses of customs duties and taxes in the EU of approximately 8 million. The 40 million cigarettes seized equal the yearly consumption of 5 000 persons smoking 20 cigarettes per day.

SIROCCO involved customs authorities from the 27 EU Member States and 11 Non EU partner countries from the Union for the Mediterranean (Albania, Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Authority, Montenegro, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey) with the support of the European Commission, the World Customs Organization (WCO), Europol and Interpol.

The operation was coordinated at OLAF headquarters in Brussels via a Permanent Operational Co ordination Unit staffed with customs liaison officers from 9 EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Romania), Egypt, Morocco and Turkey, as well as one liaison officer from Europol.

In the past, several other joint customs operations such as “Diabolo II” were held by OLAF and successfully led to the seizures of millions of counterfeit cigarettes and other items (see IP/10/99 and MEMO/10/23).

For more information, see


The price of cigarettes in the european union

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BACKGROUND&#x02014 A major factor influencing tobacco use is its price. Fiscal policies on tobacco are a key ingredient of any comprehensive control strategy, as they can be used to raise prices. The European Union (EU) developed directives to ensure some harmonisation of the fiscal pressure on tobacco across its member states.
OBJECTIVES&#x02014 To provide a simple comparison of tobacco prices in the EU, adjusting for the purchasing power of each currency.
DESIGN&#x02014 For price comparisons, a 20&#x000a0 units pack of Marlboro was the reference product, and data refer to April 2000.&#x000a0 Purchasing power parities (PPP) for each member state currency have been compiled. These are currency conversion rates, which convert to a common currency and equalise the purchasing power of different currencies.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES&#x02014 Nominal prices of a Marlboro pack for each member state, and a price index, estimated taking as reference the EU mean. Adjusted prices and an adjusted price index have been estimated using PPP.
RESULTS&#x02014 Nominal prices show wide variation, with the cheapest pack in Portugal (59) and the most expensive in the UK (196) the range of variation is three fold. However, PPP adjusted prices reveal a different distribution. In three countries adjusted prices are outliers, but all other countries make two clusters, one around the average EU index of 100,&#x000a0 the other around a lower value of 85.
CONCLUSIONS&#x02014 These results suggest that fiscal harmonisation policies in the EU do not have an even effect at reducing availability by its impact in price.

Keywords cigarette price fiscal policy health policy European Union.

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