Counterfeit and foreign cigarette levels

From: This is Somerset

A collection of empty cigarette packets has shown that more than a tenth of all the cigarettes smoked in the south west came from foreign bought or illicit sources.

The packets were randomly collected from streets and easy access bins in the South West.

Analysis of discarded packs showed that 12.1 percent were either tax paid or non-tax paid cigarettes from other countries or else they were counterfeits.

That does not include hand-rolled tobacco, for which HM Revenue and Customs estimates that as much as half of UK consumption is sourced on the black market.

The survey was carried out on behalf of cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris by Will O’Reilly, a former Scotland Yard detective . HMRC estimates that it loses up to £3.1 billion a year in tax revenue because of illegal tobacco sales.

Philip Morris are trying to persuade the Government not to move to plain packaging which they claim would be easier to fake.

They say counterfeit cigarettes are often made in unsanitary conditions which affects their content.

Cigarettes recently intercepted by the UK Border Agency contained asbestos, rat droppings, human faeces, dead flies, and mould among other substances.


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