Brussels urges Belarus to raise excise taxes on cigarettes

Günther Oettinger, the EU’s Budget Commissioner, for the first time recognised that low excise taxation on cigarettes in Belarus encouraged illicit trade.

The main drivers of cigarette smuggling from Belarus to the EU were the “big differences in fiscal charges on tobacco products,” he pointed out on Wednesday (22 February).

“To reduce cigarette smuggling from Belarus, the Commission would encourage Belarus, as well as other neighbouring countries, to approximate its excise duty rates to the levels in the EU,” the Commissioner said.

Lawmakers from different political groups in the European Parliament have recently called on the EU executive to tackle illicit tobacco trade from Belarus.

Oettinger replied last week (16 February), stating that Belarusian products account for around 10% of the illicit tobacco market in the EU.