Philip Morris International Inc. has launched a public education initiative entitled United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) to combat black market trade.
Supported by a coalition of national and state private and public sector partners, the campaign will provide local officials, law enforcement, and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem as well as the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black-market profiteers.
The campaign will run through 2021 in eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
The coalition’s membership is made up of brand enforcement leaders and other organizations, including:
- American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA)
- Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Center at Michigan State University
- Arizona Trucking Association (ATA)
- Florida Petroleum Marketers Association (FPMA)
- Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA)
- Florida Retail Federation (FRF)
- GrindStone Strategic Consulting
- Illinois Fuel & Retail Association (IFRA)
- Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)
- Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)
- International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE)
- Investigative Consultants
- Levi Strauss & Co.
- Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
- Merck & Co., Inc.
- Michigan Chamber of Commerce
- Michigan Retailers Association (MRA)
- Michigan Trucking Association (MTA)
- National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
- National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center)
- Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
- Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA)
- Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA)
- Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM)
- Philip Morris International (PMI)
- Procter & Gamble Company
- Tommy Hilfiger
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- United States Council for International Business (USCIB)
“Illegal trade is a major problem that fuels serious organized criminal networks and damages our economy. No matter the commodity, these criminals will seize any opportunity to exploit markets and communities to bolster their nefarious activities,” said Martin King, CEO of PMI America.
“PMI is pleased to be joined by so many cross-sector partners who are leading the fight against illegal trade and the black-market criminals profiting at the expense of Americans’ security.”
Counterfeit and smuggled goods pose serious threats in many states. The situation has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with criminals seizing on opportunities to traffic all types of counterfeit and illegal products, including highly demanded personal protective equipment (PPE). Since January 2020, online counterfeited goods have jumped nearly 40 percent.
In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s only through open dialogue, cooperation, and the sharing of best practices between parties in the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, that we can continuously improve and advance efforts against illegal trade and the criminal networks benefiting from it.
PMI has more than two decades of experience fighting illegal trade in tobacco products. The company invests significantly in supply chain controls through preventive and protective measures, implements track-and-trace solutions worldwide in line with strict regulatory requirements, and applies comprehensive due diligence of customers and suppliers.
PMI works with private and public actors alike to help advance global anti-illegal trade efforts, including through PMI IMPACT, a global initiative supporting third-party projects against illegal trade and related crimes.