Big tobacco firms accused of flooding foreign markets to encourage smuggling into UK to help their fight against tax rises
A report by campaigners Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said that multinational tobacco companies send more products to some countries than there is demand which leads to some of the tobacco products being smuggled back to Britain, allowing the firms to lobby government for lower duty on legitimate cigarettes to make them more attractive to smokers. Leading figures in the cigarette industry denied the claims, however firms have recently been punished for oversupplying some European countries. HMRC said supply for cigarettes was exceeded by 240 per cent in some countries. The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) said tax on cigarettes continued to increase, with Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget in March laying out a two per cent rise above inflation. A TMA spokesman said: ‘The illegal market is clearly growing as consumers seek cheaper products elsewhere. Plain packaging will be a gift to the criminal gangs who wish to flood the UK market with cheap, counterfeit tobacco.’
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