Price of tobacco is low in Serbia due to government attempts to break the Serbian mafia’s control of the tobacco smuggling after the breakup of Yugoslavia. So many Serbian politicians’ were either on the take or afraid of the mafia during Tadic’s presidency they couldn’t find the will to take on the problem, so the solution was to simply remove all profit from the market, hence cheapest cigs in most of Europe.
Grew up with a guy who’s family fled Bosnia before the war, family owned a substantial legitimate tobacco distribution warehouse/distro company, when father/uncle were late with bribe money, mafia burned down warehouse, all trucks, uncle’s house, killed an elderly relative who tried to stop the house burning, and told family they had 24 hours to leave country. Family went from stable upper middle class to penniless immigrants in New Jersey over course of 3 weeks. He told me the mafia systematically did the same before the civil war to every Soviet-era distribution/warehouse owner that didn’t surrender their warehouses.