13 May 2014

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On 6 May 2014, Greek authorities carried out a further successful operation against international cigarette smugglers. On the basis of information gathered by the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF), the Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE) and Greek customs seized nine million contraband cigarettes.

OLAF received information from reliable sources about a container declared as loaded with chairs, but strongly suspected to contain contraband cigarettes. On 17 February, the container was transported from the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates to the free zone of Port Klang in Malaysia. The same container was then shipped to Port Piraeus in Greece, with a Greek company located in Thessaloniki declared as final destination.

OLAF informed Greek Customs of the suspicious container in March. Upon its arrival in Piraeus, Greek authorities checked the container on 6 May and discovered that it was loaded with 900 master cases of RGD brand cigarettes (that is nine million cigarettes). Furthermore, preliminary investigations revealed that the consignee was fake.

Unpaid duties and taxes on the smuggled cigarettes amount to nearly EUR 1.6 million in this new case. Taking into account two earlier seizures of cigarettes smuggled from Port Klang to Piraeus in March, OLAF and Greek authorities have prevented the loss of more than nearly EUR nine million in the three operations carried out in recent weeks.

See related press release no. 4 “Second major seizure of smuggled cigarettes in Greece within a week prevents loss of several million eurosAll available translations.

The mission of the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) is threefold it protects the financial interests of the European Union by investigating fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities it detects and investigates serious matters relating to the discharge of professional duties by members and staff of the EU institutions and bodies that could result in disciplinary or criminal proceedings and it supports the EU institutions, in particular the European Commission, in the development and implementation of anti fraud legislation and policies.

For further details
European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF)
Phone 32 2 295 73 36
E mail olaf media


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Theresa griffin mep supports advertising ban of e-cigarettes

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Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Theresa Griffin, Labour MEP for the North West of England has responded to the recent challenging of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) by the Totally Wicked company before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Speaking from Brussels, Ms Griffin commented that “Four thousand British children start smoking each week that’s a staggering 200,000 new childhood smokers a year.

“We must ensure that young people do not start smoking, the TPD regulated e cigarettes for the first time. It’s hard to believe that products such as this could have existed on the market completely free from regulation for long.”

“Cigarette companies can produce chocolate and menthol or strawberry cigarettes. These can be a soft entry point for young people into cigarettes and can lure children into taking up a lethal addiction” she said.

The TPD does not ban the sale of e cigarettes. They can continue to be sold freely as long as they meet certain safeguards.

The initial negotiating position of the European Council was for each e cigarette to require a licence. The European Parliament did not support this position and the final stance, as voted by MEPs in February 2014 was that e cigarettes can continue to be sold in the same manner as cigarettes.

If an e cigarette manufacturer wishes, they can apply for a medical licence and, provided their product meets safety standards, they can be sold freely and can advertise their products.

“I would invite Totally Wicked to apply for this licence” Ms Griffin commented.

“It is important that consumers can be confident that they products they buy are tested and that they are safe. The TPD ensures that any e cigarettes on the market are safe for use.

“We must also ensure that e cigarettes do not create a new generation of smokers. Preventing cigarettes and e cigarettes from advertising can help to remove the association and may help prevent young people taking up smoking.”