From: STV (Scottish Television)
More than half of shopkeepers in Scotland are aware of smuggled tobacco being sold in their area, according to a survey.
The poll by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance also found that 45% of independent retailers knew about “proxy purchasing” from their shops, when adults buy tobacco for under-18s.
A total of 53% said they knew smuggled tobacco was being sold in their area.
Geoff Barrett, a Glasgow shopkeeper and spokesman for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, said: “In this economic climate it’s understandable there’s a temptation to buy tobacco from smugglers who charge half what I charge. However, smokers need to know that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you buy from smugglers, you don’t know what you’re going to get.
“The cigarettes may turn out to be fake, have rat droppings or sawdust in them and be pretty unpleasant to smoke. By the time you’ve found that out, your smuggler will have moved on. So the good deal you thought you were getting turns out to be anything but.
“The reason smuggling is so widespread in the UK is because the Government puts so much tax on tobacco that it raises the legitimate retail price sky high. If a smuggler wants to offer his customers a half-price deal, he will make more profit in the UK where the price is so high than he would anywhere else in Europe, bar Ireland.”
The survey also found that 14% of retailers in Scotland know of tobacco smugglers supplying underage smokers.
Mr Barrett added: “It’s really shocking that so many smugglers are supplying the underage with tobacco. Retailers like me need to ask to see the ID of anyone buying tobacco who we think may be under 18 and that’s the way it should be. Smugglers aren’t so worried about the age of those to whom they sell.”
The Tobacco Retailers Alliance represents 26,000 independent shopkeepers across the UK and is funded by the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association.
The Economic Research Survey questioned 1062 retailers in the UK, including 100 in Scotland. It was carried out during January and February and the results were analysed by the Opinion Research Business.