Apparently, "up to 19% of cigarettes smoked in the UK are illicit". Saying "up to 98%" would be just as valid a statement mind. I bet there was a discussion over coffee by press officers about what arbitrary figure to slap in there.
What's more, to dissuade all the tobacco smoking addicts to quit they warn us that counterfeit cigarettes have "80% more nicotine". Surely to your average smoker that's a good thing?
* the illicit cigarette trade funds serious organised crime, including the drugs trade and people smuggling.Shifted blame guilt-tripping, nice! I wonder when they will start to argue that we should stop using gas supplied by Gazprom because it helps to maintain Russias oligarch mafia bosses reign of terrors in the Urals?
* an illicit tobacco market allows low level criminality to gain a foothold in a communityActually, having less real police officers and ignoring low level crime due to increased priority for "hate crimes" and centrally driven targets does that.
* the illicit cigarette market will undercut honest traders and can drive them out of businessTranslation: Our department gets less of your money.
* the illicit cigarette market is wholly unregulated - smugglers don't care if their customers are children.Neither do many shopkeepers, and looking at certain African states neither do some of cigarette companies.
How long is it before the Department of Health puts out a press release like this claiming that people who smoke smuggled ciggies are actually responsible for the cash shortage in the NHS? Let's not be under any illussion here, HMRC doesn't want people to quit smoking, it just wants us to quit smoking things that it isn't taxing.