Warning that illicit tobacco sales not a victimless crime

Police, health representatives and retailers attended the one-day conference at Perth Concert Hall. Speakers included Detective Sergeant Allan Orr of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

DS Orr warned the production of counterfeit cigarettes was not a victimless trade and said those behind it were often involved in drug dealing and human trafficking.

Discussions at the summit will form the basis of a report to be presented to the Scottish Government.

Seated: Mary Cuthbert, Ms Duffy, Deborah Arnott. Standing: Andrea Crossfield, John Drummond, Luk Joosens, Professor Hastings, Dave Roderick and DS Orr.

Seated: Mary Cuthbert, Ms Duffy, Deborah Arnott. Standing: Andrea Crossfield, John Drummond, Luk Joosens, Professor Hastings, Dave Roderick and DS Orr.

In the UK the illicit market share is estimated to be 12% for cigarettes and 48% for hand rolling tobacco.

Professor Gerard Hastings, director of the Institute for Social Marketing at Stirling University, chaired the event.

He said, “Presenters gave the international, UK, and Scottish perspectives and delegates and presenters discussed a number of issues. I hope it forms a basis for further plans to reduce both the supply and the consumption of illicit tobacco in Scotland.”

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland, warned people to be on the lookout for fakes.

“Many people think of buying illicit goods as a victimless crime — it is far from that,” she said. “Tobacco is a product that kills and its highly addictive nature means it is very easy to become hooked on this lethal product.

“Cheap sources of illicit tobacco that are readily available to teenagers are damaging to both health and social policies and can lead to them taking up smoking, continuing to smoke, and smoking increased quantities.

“The criminal gangs getting cheap fake or smuggled cigarettes on to our streets are the same gangs that are using their supply routes to get other illicit goods on to the black market including drugs, arms and other illegal goods.

“These organised gangs also deliberately target low-income communities where smoking prevalence is highest and so is the rate of ill-health caused by tobacco. Such criminal activity means our neighbourhoods become less safe as these gangs get a hold on our communities.

“I believe we all have a role to play in preventing unregulated traders selling illicit cigarettes, especially to our children, and making our communities safer.

“The UK Treasury is also deprived of almost £3 billion every year in taxation. This is money that should be spent on our public services, not going into the pockets of the organised criminal gangs which are behind illicit tobacco.”

DS Orr added, “The money raised from this trade is benefiting no one other than the criminals behind it, many of whom live lavish lifestyles funded by their illegal activities.”

source: thecourier.co.uk

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