The following sentence says black markets accounted for 10-15% of all cigarettes sold illegally. But, black markets are places where all cigarettes are sold illegally, like criminal activities. Could you explain why the author says black markets are part of illegal tobacco trade? Or, is this a typo?

Crucially, some countries strengthened efforts to detect and curb smuggling at the same time. Black markets were often smaller than thought, with only 10-15% of all cigarettes sold illegally. When taxes went up, this share typically rose by just a few percentage points. In poorer countries, tax evasion will be higher, but even then taxes will cut smoking and increase revenues if they are well administered.

The Economist, June 3rd Issue http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21722828-recipe-get-people-quit-well-known-why-are-so-many-governments-ignoring-it-how

1 Answer 1


Illegal markets is a broader definition that includes black markets, see the following extract on black market vs gray market:

  • "Black market typically involves transactions outside of the official economy (either not paying taxes or dealing with illegal goods or services), whereas gray market is more about diversion or counterfeiting," notes Krisa Drost.

  • "But in practical terms, both often involve a violation of the law and present the buyer with the risks of purchasing products from an unknown supply chain."


  • A black market arises where the sale of goods is controlled in some way. Typically this occurred in Britain at the time of WW2 food rationing. But the term also gets applied to illegal sales too. So I think it is very difficult to distinguish between an illegal and a black market. The OED defines a BM as :Illegal traffic or trade in officially controlled goods or currencies, or in commodities in short supply; a place where this trade occurs. Now freq. in on the black market: in illegal trade; illegally.*
    – WS2
    Jun 3, 2017 at 10:02

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