I was interested to read in the Evening Times the other day that “More than 50,000 cigarettes have been seized on raids clamping down on illegal tobacco in Glasgow”.
It’s good to see this kind of enforcement effort having success – illicit tobacco is not a victimless crime and makes a dangerous substance more readily available to young people and other vulnerable groups. By the way, it’s bad for you because it’s tobacco, not because it’s illicit.
Robust enforcement is the key to tackling the illicit market and, as we have said many times before, has resulted in huge reductions in illicit tobacco in recent years.
But a couple of other thoughts occurred to me:
These raids were on shops. Will the shops found selling illicit tobacco be kicked off the tobacco retailers register, and thus lose out on selling the legal fags too? It would seem an appropriate punishment for someone who has shown they have no respect for sales regulations and are not responsible enough to sell such a product. Yet since the register was set up only one retailer out of ten thousand has been removed for selling illicit tobacco – must we just assume the others have mended their ways, turned their backs on the chance to make money and can now be trusted over what kind of tobacco they sell and to whom? Really?
Also the article doesn’t specifically say that the picture provided is of the illicit cigarettes in question, but the image is of illicit cigarettes hidden in a stereo speaker, which is how the haul is described. If these are the cigarettes in question then you have to ask why they are still in the old, branded designs, given that we were assured that introducing standardised tobacco packs would be a gift to counterfeiters so we would end up flooded by imitation plain packs?
Maybe the counterfeiters, like the big tobacco companies, couldn’t possibly adapt their stock without a whole year’s notice? Or maybe, as happened in Australia, real events will show the scare-mongering to be a pile of nonsense.
Let’s face it anyone buying fags for £3.50 a pack from under the counter, or inside a stereo speaker, will know they are illicit – and plain packs make no difference to that at all.