Tobacco smuggling: at last, a serious & proportional response

Wednesday 22 March 2000

ASH/ Press releases/


102 Clifton Street,London EC2A 4HW Tel: (0207) 739 5902 Fax: (0207) 613 0531

Press Release
22nd March 2000
Action on Smoking
and Health

Tobacco smuggling – at last a serious and proportional response

New measures and money to tackle tobacco smuggling mark a step change and order of magnitude increase in the Government response to this insidious and damaging problem.  Clive Bates, Director of ASH said: “at last we have a serious and proportional response to the cigarettes mugglers. They have really upped the stakes and tobacco smuggling will be a much more risky business from now on.”

Commenting on the economic good sense of spending £209 million to recover £3 billion in tax revenue, Bates added: “It’s hard to imagine a better public sector investment than spending just over 200 million pounds to bring in an extra three billion in recovered duties, which is an amazing fifteen-fold return on investment.  This is inspired public spending on revenue evasion which will leverage huge new resources for spending on the things that matter.”

But ASH wondered why the approach had not been taken to its logical conclusion: “if you can spend 200 million pounds to raise three billion,  why not go further and spend more to bring in even more? I doubt they have reached the point of diminishing returns in spending money on a crackdown on smugglers.” said Bates.

And ASH was concerned that about the limited ambition of the proposals, which only aim to hold smuggled market share at 20% (approximately the current level) in 2003-4 compared to a projected market share of 36% without the new package.

“The new money only aims to contain the smuggling problem at about current levels and to choke off the growth – but what we really need is a plan to bring smuggling right down so that the organised criminals are driven out and smuggling once again becomes a marginal activity.” said Bates.

“Money shouldn’t be a problem because almost any package of measures they could possibly devise would pay for itself many times over in recovered cigarette duties.”   added Bates


Contact Clive Bates, ASH (0207) 739 5902

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