Ultimately, the most effective way of reducing illicit trade in cigarettes is to help consumers identify the difference between legal and illegal products and the risks involved in purchasing illegal cigarettes. Unfortunately, low public awareness and understanding of the issue means that many smokers buy cheap, illegal cigarettes with little knowledge of where the product comes from, what it contains or the extent to which their money is contributing to fund organized criminal activity.
Informing consumers about the societal and financial impact of the illegal cigarette trade, as well as publicizing seizures made by enforcement authorities and prosecutions are part of any plan to tackle the illegal tobacco trade. A 2009 report conducted by the Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) observed,
Only when consumers appreciate the full repercussions of their counterfeit purchase can they be expected to stop the practice.
Numerous parties, including government agencies, tobacco manufacturers, media outlets, cross-industry groups and associations, and legal retailers, can and should, play an important role in developing education campaigns. Broad use of national and international media to raise public awareness of these campaigns is also critical and is an approach effectively adopted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).