UK anti-smuggling agreement signed with international tobacco companies..

April 21, 2009 - The British (United Kingdom, Britain) Government has taken another step in the fight against tobacco smuggling as the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Angela Eagle has signed anti-smuggling agreements with two international tobacco manufacturers.

Under the new agreements, Philip Morris International (PMI) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) are committed to working with the European Commission, the UK Government and customs authorities across the EU to tackle the smuggling and counterfeiting of their products. They will do this through measures which include Know Your Customer rules and track-and-trace technology. The agreements also require PMI and JTI to make payments to the UK authorities if their genuine products are seized by HMRC.

Angela Eagle, the Exchequer Secretary, said: "These agreements are an important new element in the fight against tobacco smuggling. In the last decade we have halved the size of the illicit cigarette market in the UK and by signing these agreements, we are demonstrating that we are determined to continue working with tobacco manufacturers to tackle smuggling."

Since the UK's first Tackling Tobacco Smuggling strategy was published in 2000, HM Revenue & Customs and the Border Agency have:
* Reduced the proportion of illicit cigarettes from 21% in 2000 to 13%
* Seized more than 14 billion cigarettes and more than 1,000 tonnes of hand rolling tobacco in the UK and abroad
* Broken up 370 criminal gangs involved in large-scale smuggling
* Prosecuted more than 2,000 people and issued more than £35 million worth of confiscation orders

The evidence strongly suggests that the key to controlling smuggling is controlling the supply chain, and that the supply chain is controlled to a great extent by the tobacco industry.

Reference: Government signs agreements to tackle tobacco smuggling, HM Treasury, 4/20/2009; Progress In The Fight To Tackle Tobacco Smuggling,, 4/21/2009.

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