The study covered all regions across the country and 2,500 people.

In the first quarter, bootleg tobacco accounted around 36.2% of the market, thus becoming the largest player.

According to the review, much of the decline is attributed to the Government’s recent efforts to curb smuggling rates, such as banning tobacco trading in duty-free shops.

The illegal cigarette traffic would cost the Government a whopping €1 billion in uncollected taxes this year alone, according to the forecasts of the two tobacco giants.

“Our forecasts suggest that the two percentage points can be converted in an amount equivalent to €20 million that is fed into the state budget. However, bootleg tobacco market still covers a large share of the industry, both in terms of profit and volume”, said Adrian Popa, Head of Corporate & Regulatory Affairs South East Europe British American Tobacco.

The research carried by Novel Research shows that tobacco smuggling activity is a regional one rather than a national one, with the north-east region being the country’s smuggling blackspots.

In fact, this is the only region that still records a marked increase in illegal tobacco trading in the period under review, from 52.8% to 59.5%, with the cigarettes usually being smuggled out of Moldova.

The biggest decline in smuggling rates of 5.3% has been observed in south-east region. In the west, sales of cigarettes bought from duty-free shops recorded an encouraging drop of 6.4%.