Government to take action on fake fags

16 June 2014

cigarettes Fags. They're great.

Well, yes, a bit of perspective is welcome here, but having a snout can be one of life's greatest treats.

But taxpayers are bummed out on the deal, by losing out on £2 billion in unpaid duty, due to the ongoing illegal trade

Despite efforts to tackle tobacco smuggling, these have been hampered by an almost comedic lack of action by the government and its agencies, a committee of MPs has said.

The number of illicit cigarettes smoked in the UK rose by 49% to a billion in 2012, suggesting a reduction in enforcement action, the MPs said. HM Revenue and Customs said tackling tobacco smuggling was "a priority", but it has to say such things like that.

The committee of MPs were particularly critical of the failure to fine a single firm for deliberately oversupplying cigarettes to high-risk markets in order for them to be smuggled back to the UK.

A spokesperson for the committee said "While there have been some high-profile successes, over the last three years the numbers of prosecutions and convictions for organised crime cases involving tobacco have fallen. We do not believe that these numbers are decreasing due to the reduction in this type of crime and are deeply concerned that these figures may indicate a reduction in enforcement action."

The committee went on: "It is astonishing that no UK tobacco manufacturer has ever been fined for oversupply of products to high-risk overseas markets and that only one statutory warning letter has been issued."

The MPs welcomed efforts by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Border Force to address acknowledged communication failures, but admit that shit has to be stepped up as the penalties are too weak and enforcement too rare. The MPs also suggested that concerns over boosting the black market should not trump public health considerations in the debate over plain packaging.

HMRC still say that tackling tobacco smuggling was a priority. "Since 2000, we have more than halved the size of the illicit market in cigarettes," it said statemently. "Since 2012, we have seized 3.3 billion cigarettes, over 800 tonnes of illicit hand-rolling tobacco and have prosecuted 593 criminals involved in the fraud."

"We are determined to disrupt the criminal networks at the heart of this trade using every method available."

The good news is that the local independent trader might have a load of cheap cigs for you, if you ask them nicely.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment