2018-01-12 Time
Friday, January 12, 2018 3:52 pm - 6:52 pm
Trinidad and Tobago
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ON THE eve of a Budget that will see yet another rise in the price of cigarettes, Britain's beleaguered tobacco makers are collaborating on the country's first campaign to stub out the growing problem of counterfeit cigarettes.


HM Customs and Excise estimates up to one in five of the 15.5bn cigarettes smuggled in each year are fakes - and that tide is starting to dent company profits. The move comes six months after Customs embarked on a three-year strategy to combat such smuggling, which cost the Treasury £3.6bn in 2001-02 in lost excise duties and VAT - equal to 1p on the basic rate of income tax.


Customs says the problem is so big that no duty is being paid on 28% of the 75bn cigarettes smoked in the UK each year, although that includes the fivebn brought into the country legally for 'personal use'. Since last October, following a relaxation in the law, British nationals have been allowed to bring 3200 duty-free cigarettes into the country, a six-month supply for the average smoker. At the same time, Customs said it would invest more than £200m in Online Cigarettes extra Carton Of Newports officers over three years and the latest freight X-ray scan technology.


Memos to cement collaboration with BAT and Gallaher, two of the big three tobacco giants, have since been signed and this week a Customs spokesman said Imperial will soon put pen to paper. The strategy appears to have had an immediate impact. Customs seized 2.8bn cigarettes in 2000-01 either in, or en route to, the UK. Though figures have not been published, 2.6bn illegal cigarettes have been seized since last November, and Customs says it is on track to save the Treasury £1.5bn this year.


The Government's target is to reduce the market share of illegal cigarettes from 22% to 18% by 2004. But it is the rise in counterfeit cigarettes, mainly made in sophisticated plants in eastern Europe and China, which is dismaying the tobacco industry and the Government - and inflicting more harm Marlboro Cigarettes Price on an unwitting public. Fakes, which trading standards officers have seized from street vendors and small retail outlets in the London districts of Camden, Haringey and Westminster, are hard to tell apart from the real thing.


But lab tests show they contain twice the levels of tar, nicotine and various banned chemicals. Some have even been Marlboro Gold bulked out with plastics, wrapping materials, sawdust and sand.


The main brand faked is Benson and Hedges, made by Gallaher in Britain. Customs says 'over half ' the B cartons and up to a quarter of Regals seized may be fakes, while Silk Cut and Marlboro Lights have also become a target for counterfeiters. Trading standards officers in Camden say buyers are often children.


If it is right that one in five packets are fake, the tobacco industry could be losing £60m a year. That has spurred the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, representing all UK distributors, to alert smokers of greater health dangers.

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