MPs Criticise Lack of Action When it Comes to Tobacco Smuggling

MPs have criticised the lack of action which is taken when tobacco is smuggled into the country illegally and the UK taxpayer loses out on around £2bn in unpaid duty because of this illegal trade which is growing in popularity.

In the UK alone the number of illicit cigarettes being smoked rose by 49% to a billion in 2012 which would suggest that enforcement concerning illegal tobacco has been relaxed somewhat. HM Revenue and Customs said that tacking the illegal tobacco industry was a priority to them.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee said that failure to deal with the rise in popularity of tobacco smuggling should be massive cause for concern. Over the last few years there has been a number of prosecutions and convictions for organised crime relating to tobacco but these have fallen suggesting fewer offenders are being caught.

It is a strong view that the numbers are simply not reducing because of a decrease in this type of crime as we already know this is growing in popularity but rather these figures could well indicate a reduction in enforcement action.

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 stated The Committee.

MPs stated that more does need to be done in order to strengthen their strategy against tacking tobacco smuggling into the UK. In 2012 alone 3.3 billion cigarettes were seized with a further 800 tonnes of illicit hand-rolling tobacco also seized. A total of 593 criminals were arrested in relation to the seizures and for being involved with the fraud.

HMRC stated that we are determined to disrupt the criminal networks at the heart of this trade using every method available.

For legitimate tobacco companies it is frustrating and so we can only hope that there is a clamp down on illegal tobacco smuggling within the UK.

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