Globally, the volume of illegal trading in tobacco products represents 15-25% of international trade activity, causing losses estimated at hundreds billions of US dollars.
Due to the nature of Lebanon's open and free markets that illegal trading exists is not surprising. Regie works to fight illegal trade though it's Anti-Smuggling Section. Regie maintains anti-smuggling teams and individuals wearing distinctive military uniforms and off-road vehicles, along with special weapons for conducting raids and field operations.
The Mission of the Anti-Smuggling Teams
• Monitoring the market and fighting tobacco and tunbac smuggling across Lebanon
• Raiding factories forging tobacco products and the stores selling forged or smuggled products
• Monitoring the free zone at Beirut port, unloading tobacco fabricated at the free zone and escorting it during transport to the free zone at the airport or another port, counting incoming goods while checking its type and quantity and the preparation of documentation for customs officials
• Creating activity reports and confiscating forged or smuggled goods
To learn more about the procedures of paying fines due to seizing smuggled products in your store, you are pleased to show at the Regie’s Headquarter in Hadath, before the Smuggling Control Department or the Legal Affairs Department, during official working hours, in order to get more information about the fine’s value.
Such value is calculated according to both quality and quantity of seized tobacco products.
Please note the possibility of pleading before the General Department which could reduce the fine.
The Illegal Trade in Tobacco Products
Illegal trading in tobacco products is mainly conducted in two ways:
Illegal Importing (Smuggling)
This includes forged and original products and mainly takes the form of low-cost cigarettes. These products are legally fabricated brands from certain countries that are smuggling to another country that lacks a legal market for the goods. Studies indicate that illegal trading in tobacco products is an international phenomenon covering all continents, including countries of high and low incomes alike. Cigarettes are subject to high taxes and are easily transportable, while the risk compared with the revenue is presents a lucrative business opportunity, cigarettes are deemed the most smuggled good, worldwide.
Illegal Local Production (Forged and Imitations)
Forged products are those bearing a trademark similar to that of a formerly registered product, but that are made without approval from the owner, or products that cannot be disguised from those of the original brand, thus violating the right of the owner of the commercial brand. Forging involves copying the cover, name or any other aspect related to the original product.
The imitation products aim to appear identical to those bearing the registered trademark. This is done through imitating or copying certain aspects of the original product, such as its shape, name, packaging color and more, with the aim of misleading the consumer and making them believe that the imitation product is made by the original brand.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Fighting Smuggling and Signed With International Companies
Realizing the importance of removing the trade of illegal tobacco products, including the distribution of false and imitated cigarettes, and fostering serious cooperation between the government and related parties to reduce and remove imitated and smuggled cigarettes, and by virtue of resolution No 16, the Regie Department signed several agreements and MOUs on fighting the smuggling of tobacco products with the Customs General Directorate and large international tobacco companies (Japan Tobacco, Philip Moris, BIT) which will limit the flow of smuggled products to the Lebanese market, within available capabilities and circumstances.