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Scourge of illegal fags

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: November 07, 2012

Comments (13)

NEARLY a quarter of all cigarettes sold on Burton and South Derbyshire’s streets are illegal, shocking figures have revealed.

Statistics from independent market research group MS Intelligence suggest more than 22 per cent of cigarettes consumed in the East and West Midlands were non-duty paid — more than five per cent higher than the national average.

The illegal tobacco trade is a major and ever-growing global problem and is estimated to cost the UK Government £3 billion a year in lost tax revenues.

Consumers are being increasingly exposed to brands which are not manufactured to the necessary safety standards.

Colin Wragg, Imperial Tobacco’s head of UK corporate and legal affairs, spoke exclusively to the Mail about the data.

He said: “The research in April and May 2012 indicated that more than 22 per cent of cigarettes consumed in the West and East Midlands were non-duty paid — that is either legitimate brands smuggled into the UK for illegal resale or counterfeit product.

“This figure is more than five per cent higher than the national UK average.

“But the situation with roll your own tobacco is worse. Around 50 per cent of roll your own tobacco consumed in the Midlands is non-duty paid and this is in line with the UK average.”

Research in the Midlands is undertaken twice a year by MS Intelligence, with the focus on different brands found in the area through pack collection analysis.

The results are then shared with HM Revenue and Customs and The Treasury.

The Mail revealed recently how smuggled tobacco with an estimated retail value of £6,000 was seized from the Ezee shop, in Horninglow Road North, Burton. The haul included 12,000 cigarettes and 6.5 kilogrammes of handrolling tobacco.

Staffordshire County Council launched a Fight the Fakes campaign in August to help take potentially harmful counterfeit products like tobacco and alcohol out of circulation.

Mr Wragg said: “The illicit trade is common across a wide variety of industry sectors and products and it is estimated that approximately 600 billion illegal cigarettes are sold worldwide each year, representing some 11 per cent of the global market.

“This trade benefits only the criminals involved — the Government is deprived of around £3 billion per year in lost tax revenues, and the livelihoods of tobacco retailers are threatened.”

The UK has the second highest tobacco excise rate in the European Union behind the Republic of Ireland, and tax accounts for as much as 88 per cent of the recommended retail price of UK cigarette brands.

A typical pack of 20 premium brand cigarettes costs around £7.75 in the UK when purchased in a legitimate retail outlet, but costs just £3.60 in Spain and £2.50 in Poland.

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  • Burton Mail  |  November 11 2012, 5:33PM

    Tobacco companies concerned about the health of their customers? That's got to be a first..

  • Burton Mail  |  November 10 2012, 11:08PM

    The tax on cigarettes is oppressive and probably the highest in Europe. The Government has driven people to go elsewhere, smokers will go to a cheaper source when hit with unfair tax. The same will happen with booze if supermarkets are forced to up their prices. The booze and *** cruises will return. How about making rich companies and tax avoiders pay their share instead of whining on about smokers. And no I do not smoke.

  • Burton Mail  |  November 09 2012, 9:01PM

    So why is the Burton Mail taking a tobacco industry piece of propaganda and reporting it as news?! HMRC reports that the illicit trade is falling, not rising. Do yuor readers know that Imperial has been busy raising its own prices recently, to offset declining sales in all western European markets. As for being concerned about **** not made to safety standards, remember that tobacco is a deadly product - half of all long term users are killed by it. Hundreds in this area alone each year.

  • Burton Mail  |  November 08 2012, 1:43PM

    If the Government cut the duty it would reduce the illegal market. A cut in duty would also increase the takings in UK shops and increase the revenue collected by the Government.

  • Burton Mail  |  November 08 2012, 11:12AM

    UK has the second highest tobacco excise rate in the European Union behind the Rebublic of Ireland. You don,t have to be the brain of Britain to understand why this problem has arose. Reduce the taxes to an acceptable level and the criminals would be no more. Simple.

  • Burton Mail  |  November 08 2012, 4:28AM

    Blame greedy governments,if booze and cigarettes were not so highly taxed there would not be a need to smuggle,gov deserves all it gets

  • Burton Mail  |  November 08 2012, 12:56AM

    They do what now?! They pick cigarette packets out of the bins and report to the government what we're all smoking??! Are we paying for this?

  • Burton Mail  |  November 07 2012, 8:26PM

    Just goes to prove that that if you try to discourage an activity by hiking the prices, people will turn to underhand measures in order to satisfy their cravings. People will end up doing themselves more harm than good by purchasing inferior products which will probably cost the Health service more in years to come. When will Governments realise the solution is not revenue based, its educating people that will make a long term difference.

  • Burton Mail  |  November 07 2012, 4:42PM

    Dont be kidded into thinking that the major producers abroad are not involved.

  • Burton Mail  |  November 07 2012, 2:12PM

    I want to know where I can buy some of these ****. Tax paid **** are very expensive!