O’Reilly of the Yard is on the case in the hunt for illicit tobacco.
Former Scotland Yard detective Will O’Reilly has been traversing Scotland like an eager bloodhound, sniffing out counterfeit and smuggled tobacco.
He’s not doing it to snare the bad guys though.
The ex-detective chief inspector is trying to build a case against the introduction of plain, standardised packaging for tobacco products – a health measure backed by the Scottish Government and now likely to be introduced by the UK Government.
Mr O’Reilly is in the pay of a tobacco company and is promoting their false premise that the introduction of standardised packaging will increase the amount of illicit tobacco in the UK.
In turn, they argue, that will damage the finances of your friendly corner shop.
To promote the alarmist claims of his employers, tobacco company Philip Morris Limited, the retired policeman focuses on emphasising current levels of illicit tobacco, saying the volume is bad now and will grow.
This is because organised criminals will supposedly find standardised packs easier to copy – a nonsensical conclusion.
The ex-cop and his team of undercover agents go to different cities and towns, buying up as much illegal product as they can in “sting” operations in pubs, markets, newsagents and other stores.
So far we have been told that Glasgow has the highest levels of illicit in the UK, Fife is awash with it and Paisley, Stirling and a string of other towns are also flooded with black market tobacco.
This week, Philip Morris put out a fresh news release in their PR blitz, with a nationwide round-up of their findings in the various towns.
The truth is that levels of illicit tobacco are on the decline and HM Revenue & Customs aren’t worried that plain packs will spark a growth in black market product.
They may be called “plain” but the packs are actually quite sophisticated. Corporate branding is removed, but security markings remain, along with large picture health warnings and consumer information, which cover most of the pack area.
The strong images show the horrific effects of smoking – cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, stroke and many more.
So why are tobacco companies spending millions of pounds opposing standardised packs?
Because removing brands and logos from packaging makes tobacco less attractive to young people – a market they want to capture.
The tobacco companies have a long history of opposing regulation by paying for scaremongering studies and reports that suit their agenda. Put simply, you cannot trust work paid for by a tobacco company.
They have been proved wrong before and, despite the work of O’Reilly of the Yard, they will be proved wrong again.