Rise in smuggling of illegal tobacco through Hull and Humber ports
THE illegal tobacco trade in the Humber area could be fuelling organised crime, according to forces charged with fighting the crime.
The amount of illicit tobacco being smuggled into the Humber area has increased by almost 6 per cent over the past year.
Latest figures from the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association (TMA) show the figure has risen from 17.5 per cent in 2011 to 23.3 per cent last year.
The TMA and the Border Force say it is not just the financial implications that are of concern regarding this increase.
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Peter Osbourne, regional manager of the North, East Midlands and Eastern England at TMA, said: "This is obviously a worryingly large increase in the amount of non-UK duty paid tobacco for the region, which has a number of implications for business, particularly independent retailers who lose out on legitimate sales.
"The Government is also affected because of the lost revenue and communities are too because of the associated criminality that comes with organised smuggling.
"The UK's high tobacco tax policy has provided economic incentives for criminals to meet the demand that exists for cheap tobacco products."
The TMA works closely with Border Force and other organisations to tackle the crime.
Last month, Border Force foiled an attempt to smuggle an estimated seven million cigarettes through the Port of Hull.
Officers inspected a tank container that had been shipped from St Petersburg and found a number of hessian sacks stuffed with cigarettes.
If the haul had not been intercepted, it could have cost the treasury about £1.75m in lost excise duty.
Sam Bullimore, of Border Force, said: "Recent seizures totalling more than eight million cigarettes and several tonnes of tobacco at the Port of Hull are an indication of our success.
"However, the war against illicit tobacco is not waged by Border Force alone.
"We work closely with colleagues at HM Revenue and Customs, which prosecutes tobacco smugglers, and Trading Standards, which tackles dishonest retailers, to crack down on this type of criminality."