Consumer: Smokers avoid tobacco tax by holidaying abroad

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Yorkshire smokers are dodging soaring cigarette prices by bringing back as many packets as possible when holidaying abroad.

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A new survey, by Mitchla Marketing/Survey Sampling International, has found that 37 per cent of smokers in Yorkshire and Humberside are now buying tobacco products from ‘non-shop sources’ such as friends of family, in pubs, and at car boot sales.

One in seven smokers now regularly buy their tobacco from abroad to avoid paying UK duty, with half saying they would bring back as many cigarettes as they legally can from their holiday. Worryingly, 47 per cent of these admitted they did not know the rules about what is allowed and what is not. The increase in non-shop sources means the Treasury loses an estimated £2.1bn of tax revenue every year. Over the past five years, taxes on tobacco products have risen 40 per cent, with tax now accounting for 80 per cent of the price of a packet of cigarettes – the highest amount in the whole of the 
EU.

Giles Roca, director general of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) said: “This survey shows that excessive taxation on tobacco products is forcing up prices and driving consumers in Yorkshire and Humberside away from legitimate sources. This is clear proof that the government’s high tax tobacco policy is not working.”

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