A recent report revealed 23.3% of cigarettes smoked in London and 44% of rolling tobacco have avoided U.K. taxes.
LONDON – A top cigarette manufacturer has warned that the number of cigarettes purchased in the United Kingdom that avoid duty and taxes is set to soar, The Independent reports.
Japan Tobacco International (JTI) recently conducted an undercover survey around northwest London and found that a large number of counterfeit cigarettes and rolling tobacco were being sold at sharp price discounts.
These include brand-name cigarettes where the packaging is written in Spanish yet bears a Belgian tax stamp, and rolling tobacco that contains large amounts of impurities.
According to JTI, the activity follows two tax hikes that total 70 pence ($1.11 U.S.) per pack. As a result, the rate of smuggling and production of counterfeit cigarettes will continue to rise, the company said.
A recent reported revealed that 23.3% of cigarettes smoked in London and 44% of rolling tobacco have avoided UK taxes, which is nearly 50% higher than the 16.4% national average. The total loss to the Treasury from illegal tobacco last year has been pegged at £2.9 billion ($4.61 billion U.S.).
In the past 10 months, the UK government has seized more than one million fake rolling tobacco pouches that were being smuggled into the UK to be filled with illegal tobacco.
Martin Southgate, JTI’s UK managing director, said moves to introduce plain packaging do not help. “These measures will not help achieve a reduction in young people taking up smoking, this will only increase the illegal trade in tobacco,” he said.