Strong sales on the black market

Illicit sales are at an all time high

Over three-quarters of smokers are regularly avoiding taxes by buying tobacco from the black market, abroad or duty free, new research commissioned by the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association has found.

The survey of 12,000 adult smokers revealed the numbers avoiding UK duty now stands at an all-time high.

Key findings from the survey include: 76% of adult smokers buy untaxed tobacco at least once a year, this can be from legal sources such as at duty free but also includes illegal sources; 28% of smokers agree that plain packaging tempts them to buy untaxed tobacco; 37% of smokers agree that minimum pack sizes tempt them to buy untaxed tobacco; the average price for a pack of 20 illegal cigarettes is £4.33; 86% of adult smokers believe that tobacco prices are too high; 56% agree that rising tobacco prices tempt them to buy untaxed tobacco.

Giles Roca, director general of the TMA said: “This survey shows the issue of untaxed tobacco is becoming an even greater problem across the UK with over three-quarters of smokers buying non-UK duty paid tobacco in the last year, the highest ever figures.

“Smokers cite price as the chief reason for avoiding duty and with tax making up 90% of the price, combined with two duty increases in 2017 we can see the direct impact that the Government’s taxation policy is having.”