Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has called for a collective approach to combat illegal trade and promote sustainability at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF).
Held in Seoul, South Korea 19-21 September, the conference brought together hundreds of stakeholders from across the industry to discuss the trends and challenges and share best practice thinking.
Among those participating in the forum were Julian Cheung, anti-illicit trade operations director of Asia-Pacific region, and Ana Krasojevic, sustainability strategy and reporting director, both from JTI.
During her keynote address, Cheung said criminal groups involved in the illegal tobacco trade siphon much-needed tax revenue from state budgets.
“They don’t comply with laws and regulations and, therefore, taxpayers, governments and legitimate businesses are all paying a hefty price,” she said. “Billions of dollars in revenue are lost to this criminal activity. And, in fact, in 2019, the World Bank estimated the cost to government was a staggering $40 to 50 billion annually.”
Cheung added that there is an ‘”eminent need for greater international cooperation” between government agencies, industry, and law enforcement in tackling and disrupting criminal networks “since criminal gangs know no borders.”
In closing her keynote, Cheung stated, “Let’s shift the narrative surrounding illegal trade and act together. Through innovative strategies, cooperation, and a focus on disrupting the financial foundations of these criminal networks, we can curtail the illegal tobacco trade, and safeguard our communities and economies.”
On the ‘Pathways to Sustainability’ panel, Ana Krasojevic talked about how JTI has taken sustainability to the next evolutionary stage, by reprioritising the areas of focus and developing a new governance model.
More importantly, she said that a sustainability mindset is a strategic core of the company, across all employees, and with key partners in our supply chain. In closing, Krasojevic emphasised the need for collective action, and that “sustainability is everyone’s business.”