News & Comment

Organised criminals target Scots smokers with illegal cigarettes

Tue 9th August, 2011

About one in 12 cigarettes in Scotland is made and sold illegally - funding criminal activities and costing the government millions of pounds in lost tax revenue.

A survey found that smokers in Paisley bought the highest proportion of illegal cigarettes at 13.7 per cent, while in Glasgow one in ten cigarettes is not bought from legal sources.

In Scotland as a whole, 7.6 per cent of cigarettes are illegal, according to the survey, which analysed discarded cigarette packets in major cities in the final three months of last year. 

"Tobacco smuggling is organised crime on a global scale with huge profits ploughed back into activities like drug dealing, people smuggling and fraud," said John Whiting, assistant director of criminal investigations at HM Revenue & Customs. 

It estimates that illegal cigarettes cost the UK £2.2 billion in annual tax revenue.

Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, is seen as a lucrative target for cigarette smugglers, due to high domestic duty on cigarettes.

Cigarette sellers have called for tax on tobacco to be brought more into line with the rest of Europe to make the country less appealing to smugglers.

Source: Scotsman (9 August 2011)

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