Washington, DC - This week, in support of the U.S. National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, the Department of State launched “The Global Illicit Trade in Tobacco: A Threat to National Security,” a publication outlining the emerging negative impact of the illicit trade in tobacco and the U.S. Government’s efforts to combat it. The illicit trade in tobacco provides a lucrative revenue stream for organized crime and terrorists. Within the United States, the illicit trade deprives governments of tax revenues, causing approximately $3 to $7 billion in tax losses annually to individual states and localities.

The publication was released at the December 2nd meeting of the Interagency Working Group (IWG) to Combat Illicit Tobacco, a first-of-its-kind group that promotes a whole of government targeted approach to counter this domestic and international crime. Recognizing the importance of international cooperation, participants from Australia, Canada, Europol, France, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom joined representatives from the State Department, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, FBI, and other agencies to discuss bolstering cooperation in order to more effectively counter this growing security threat.

The IWG was initiated by the U.S. Department of State and first met in January 2015, as a measure to address the rise of illicit tobacco as a major international criminal enterprise. The IWG reconvenes quarterly.