The Scotsman has obtained figures from the tobacco industry which reveal significant increases in smuggling of illegal cigarettes. The article, published on Saturday, found that 31 per cent of packets in Scotland were illegal, up 10 per cent from 2009. The figures also show that the worst area in the UK is the north of England where 43 per cent were illegal, up 24 per cent. The Scotsman blames the cut in police staffing of Scotland’s west coast ports for the dramatic increase.
Speaking in 2008, Michael Prideaux, Director of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at British American Tobacco, estimated “the size of the global illicit trade in cigarettes to be approximately 390 billion sticks annually representing 6% of total world cigarette consumption. This denies worldwide governments approximately US$20 billion in annual tax revenue.”