The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) said it welcomes today’s (27 April) publication by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) of a revised strategy to combat the illicit tobacco trade.
Since the Tackling Tobacco Smuggling (TTS) strategy was introduced in 2000 the level of tobacco smuggling has been reduced but it still poses a significant threat. According to latest available figures from HMRC, smuggling continues to account for up to 17% of cigarette and 59% of handrolling tobacco consumption, resulting in a loss of up to £3.1bn to HM Treasury.
Christopher Ogden, chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA), said: “We very much welcome the Government’s commitment to cracking down on those who operate in the illicit tobacco market and we are pleased the refreshed strategy acknowledges the importance of working with the TMA and its member companies.
“As part of the review we have been working with HMRC to look at ways to better understand the composition of the illicit tobacco market, the impact of taxation on consumption, intelligence sharing, communications campaigns and behavioural insight. Therefore, we welcome today’s report as it recognises our ongoing commitment and strong working relationship in this area.
”However, January’s increase in VAT and the subsequent tax hike at the Budget, has led to cigarette prices increasing by as much as 66p for a pack of 20 (87p on a 25gr of handrolling) and this will only incentivise smokers to seek cheaper illicit products and provide a greater profit motive for organised criminals to smuggle.
“The illicit tobacco market will continue to provide significant challenges but we look forward to a stronger working relationship with Government and law enforcement agencies in addressing this problem.”