Scotland - tobacco industry says massive increase in illegal cigarettes..

June 29, 2010 - Scotland's west coast has become a smuggling hot spot after police cover for ports was significantly reduced last year.

New figures obtained by The Scotsman (Scotland's national newspaper) from the tobacco industryhave revealed there was a massive increase of illegal (illicit) cigarettes coming in through Dumfries and Galloway.

Sources within the tobacco industry and police believe former paramilitary groups from Northern Ireland are increasingly using ports like Stranraer to smuggle in counterfeit of "cheap white" cigarettes – made abroad below British standards – on to the UK mainland. (Cheap cigs account for fifth of market, The Scotsman, 4/28/2010)

Recent checks on packets by the tobacco industry revealed 30.8 percent in Scotland were illegal products, up 10.5 percentage points from 2009. The worst area on the UK mainland was the north of England, where 42.8 percent were illegal, up 23.5. The rate dropped dramatically the further south the tests were carried out, to just 2 percent in the south-east.

The problem of smuggling is costing the exchequer (the government's chief financial minister) millions of pounds in lost revenue and means potentially dangerous products are circulating in the UK. It also undermines the strategy of increasing tobacco prices to discourage use.

Police in Dumfries and Galloway have seen their numbers drop from 48 to 38 in the last year because Scottish Government funding was switched to providing more cover at airports following recommendations in a report by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos). The police officers have to cover 108 small ports, and Stranraer and Cairnryan on a coastline stretch of 350 miles.

But a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government is continuing to invest record levels in policing at ports across Scotland, including Dumfries and Galloway. The Scottish Government provides additional funding to police for aspects of ports policing. Dumfries and Galloway benefits directly from this funding, as it has from the funding for additional officers."

But one senior figure in the tobacco industry warned that the problem would have to be sorted out before a display ban starts to be rolled out next year in Scotland. There are fears that it will become even more difficult to distinguish between fake and genuine cigarettes.

Reference: Cut in port police linked to surge in tobacco smuggling by Ulster [one of 4-provinces of Ireland] thugs

Scotland - related news briefs:
PAPER: Scotland Unhealthy risk factors those with lack of education/ low income..;
Scotland - renewing efforts to stop pregnant women from smoking..;
Scotland - cigarette smoking quit attempts increase by 35%..;
Scotland - retailers can provide input on future to ban the display of tobacco..;
Scotland - campaigners want more to be done to protect young people from passive smoking..;
Scotland - government no plans to ban smoking in cars and public places used by children..;
Scotland - smokers will be banned from fostering or adopting children, comments from Professor Banzhaf..;
Scotland - parliament votes to ban retail cigarette displays and vending machines..;
Scotland - health minister urges smokers to quit..;
Scotland - some men beginning to lead a healthier lifestyle and therefore living longer..;
Scotland - self-reporting of smoking by pregnant women underestimates true number of pregnant smokers..;
Scotland - tobacco firms claim proposed display ban is unnecessary..;
"Glasgow effect" - prevalence of cigarette smoking impact on poor health..;
Scotland - tobacco industry will try to stop attempts to curb sales to young people..;
Scotland - cigarette vending machines removal..;
Scottish politicans most have the courage to protect the health of their constituents..;
Scotland - small businesses given extra 2-years to remove tobacco displays..;
Northern Ireland - assembly approves ban on display of tobacco items..;
Scotland to ban cigarette displays and outlaw cigarette vending machines..;
Bar workers who smoke also benefit from smoking ban..;
17 countries in the world ban indoor smoking - ENFORCEMENT..;
England, Wales to ban tobacco displays in shops..;
Definite Health Benefits of Smoking Bans..;
Northern Ireland raising age for sale of tobacco from 16 to 18 joining the other three United Kingdom (UK) countries..;
Scotland proposes to implement more measures to discourage tobacco use including the banning of tobacco displays..;
Raise Age to 21 to Purchase Tobacco Products...