Pioneers make life better. They see the world differently. They see the potential. They see how the world is and how it could be and deliver a bridge to get there. They enhance. They fix.
But innovation is impossible without passion, purpose, point and a problem to solve.
Last year, Philip Morris International launched a truly unique and groundbreaking global funding initiative to support cross-sector work against illegal trade. PMI IMPACT has pledged US$ 100 million to support organizations in the development and implementation of new projects and innovations to fight illegal trade and related crimes.
Illicit trade is a major and growing global problem, and a serious threat to society. Through smuggling, counterfeit and tax evasion, governments are losing billions in lost tax revenues, legitimate businesses are being undermined, and consumers are being exposed to poorly made and unregulated products.
It’s not just luxury goods that are counterfeited or smuggled and sold illegally. Other consumer goods like medicines, cosmetics, toys, electronics and indeed cigarettes can be widely found on the black market. In fact anything in high demand is attractive to counterfeiters and smugglers. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, transnational organized crime is a US$ 870 billion yearly business.
Following the selection process of PMI IMPACT’s first round, an impressive range of pioneering projects and fresh new approaches have just been announced, boosting efforts to eradicate the black market in tobacco products, and trade in general, to make the world a safer place.
PMI IMPACT’s Expert Council reviewed more than 200 proposals and selected 32 projects. These projects come from public, private, and academic organizations in 18 countries, and the grants allocated in this first round of projects total around US$ 28 million.
It is impressive to see such a wide range of new approaches that address the core of this complex problem. Illicit tobacco trade is just one face of a growing web of crimes, and we know that it’s only through coordinated actions of many public and private actors that we can put an end to these illegal activities that harm consumers, damage businesses, and allow criminals to prosper.
For a number of years, Philip Morris International has led efforts to tackle the problem of illicit trade. Sadly, we are only scratching the surface of the global trade in illegal tobacco, which today represents hundreds of billions of cigarettes every year. We can’t do this alone.
That is why PMI IMPACT is so important. Our fight against illegal trade is more effective working with others. Partnerships and pioneering, innovative approaches to problem solving will hopefully keep us one step ahead and outsmart the criminals.
The selected projects cover a broad range of activities in the European Union and neighboring countries. Many projects go beyond tackling the illegal tobacco trade to explore the nexus between organized crime, terrorism, online and offline trafficking, and the interdependencies between different forms of illegal trade.
A list of the selected projects is available on the PMI IMPACT website.
We celebrate the likes of Edison, Jobs, Tesla, Gates, Curie and da Vinci as great pioneers and problem solvers. Let’s also now start to recognize the importance of those pioneering protection of commerce, consumers and society.
They are champions too.
Written by Alvise Giustiniani