Councils are losing the battle against the sale of illicit cigarettes

From: Conservative Home



Often it is normal cigarettes being sold – perhaps provided to shopkeepers by gangs with people going back and forth to Poland on cheap flights bringing in all they can carry. But even worse are the counterfeit cigarettes. Nick de Bois, the former Conservative MP for Enfield North, was brave enough to oppose plain packaging for this reason. In his memoirs, Confessions of a Recovering MP, he says:

“What’s more, reported data was all very well, but I wanted to see things for myself. ‘So, how widespread is the selling of fake cigarettes, and how do they sell them, and to whom?’ ‘Well, for example, 114 million counterfeit cigarettes were sold across south London last year,’ claimed a tobacco company representative with whom I was speaking. ‘Seriously? Who says so?’ ‘The councils of Southwark, Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham.’ ‘Not you, then?’ ‘No. And there is more data from more councils.’ ‘Jeez. And why is it so dangerous, as you claim?’ ‘Because counterfeit cigarettes are more toxic than ordinary cigarettes. More tar, more arsenic, more lead, more nicotine.’ Eww… arsenic? I was recalling all the cigarettes I had smoked between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five, and feeling quite ill. Yes, arsenic is in the legitimate fags as well.”

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