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Smoking and the Bandits - join in the debate

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Eamonn Walsh | 16:35 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

Panorama investigates the multi-billion pound world of the criminal tobacco trade.

Reporter Sam Poling reveals that more than half of all hand-rolled tobacco in the country is now either counterfeit or smuggled and one in five cigarettes smoked is fake. Using secret filming, the film exposes the gangs which are costing British tax-payers £4billion in lost revenue a year.

Taking you to the heart of the supply chain, Sam Poling buys directly from the criminals, and reveals their products are up to thirty times more toxic than ordinary cigarettes.

And with exclusive access to Customs investigators, we watch as they take out a major organised Chinese tobacco gang which has set up home in Britain.


  • Comment number 1.

    We welcome your views on Smoking and the Bandits. Please use this forum to leave a comment.

  • Comment number 2.

    why can i buy british cigarett cheaper abroad than i can here is it because i have to pay for our millionair mp that we have im a smoker and go abroad often to buy my cigarett i dont need everybody to tell me it bad for me the choice should be mine i would ask everybody who goes abroad to bring fags back and give them away to a oap this goverment is to greeady they are anti smoking but love the tax they are all hypocryt

  • Comment number 3.

    85% tax on cigarettes.....its not rocket science surely if the goverment made them more affordable (85% tax)people would not use these illegal means or go abroad to buy them,seriously they are half the price abroad in europe probably still even cheaper further afield

  • Comment number 4.

    The black market of tobacco is great due to the heavy tax that our British government put on these items. Greed! All European countries pay more than a 1/3 less than we have to here. I have no symphony that our government are losing this money.

  • Comment number 5.

    can the chancellor not do maths..if he were to reduce the tax on uk sold cigarettes people would not look elsewhere to buy them as they would be on par with the rest of europe or even cheaper

  • Comment number 6.

    If smokers weren't ripped off by the government with excessive cigarette taxation, the illicit smuggling and manufacturing of cigarettes would virtually disappear overnight. It all seems nonsensical that the authorities are complaining, and spending yet more taxpayers money, on solving a problem they've created themselves. Round and round in circles.

  • Comment number 7.

    Missing the point. Everyone who smokes is an addict and our government(s) prefer to make money from taxes than help people cope with addiction. Stop worrying about the loss of tax revenue and start worrying about why people buy a drug which is even more toxic than what they could buy in this country. Stop harping on about loss of tax revenue. Why should anyone make out of anyone elses addiction? That's what tax on fags is- exploitation of addiction

  • Comment number 8.

    I roll my own cigarettes. 50g of Golden Virginia costs me apprx £12.00 here in the UK. The same packet in Germany,France,Belgium,Holland etc would cost me €4.90 which equates to £4.22 based on todays exchange rate. The tabacco company based in Nottingham, the tobacco made in the UK costs less in mainland Europe after all its shipping costs etc. and people wonder why many many people are buying counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes. As zakky1 said - anti smoking governments, but they all want the tax from it.

  • Comment number 9.

    i am a vivid watcher of panorama but this week i was a bit shocked on the bad reporting, I looked like it was just Scotland that were at wrong for the cigs. Well it is all over the uk at every market Infact Skegness is as bad as the barras in Glasgow. Bad reporting It is a british problame not a scotish one

  • Comment number 10.

    Now think about this all police and customs officers are freemasons and corrupt.
    most organized criminal gangs are freemasons.

  • Comment number 11.

    But i do agree with the report we need to stop this. not because the tax issue but the health one. these people are praying on the poor and vulnerable to make a living I say get a job and pay tax like everyone else

  • Comment number 12.

    The 'expert' said it was just like drug trafficking - that's exactly what it IS!!! Either the government should make cigarette tobacco (read nicotene) illegal like other drugs, or get real and legalise ALL drugs and control the access to them all. Then we'll have less associated crime, with those that want to affect their lives with drugs not having to cause inconvenience to those of us that don't while they do so. And if smokers are putting their lives at risk by buying from those sharks, that's their problem - stop smoking. The government's loss of revenue is no more than they deserve for not foregoing the revenue they get at the cost of British citizens health!!!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    if the goverment didnt put high tax on thing like this we would not need to buy them else were. I understand that they are harmfull but this is down to the greed of goverment they do the same to petrol and beer you work hard all week and you cant afford the things you enjoy i gave up 3years ago because it was that or my car as i could not afford both if every one gives up smokeing what will the goverment do then. if the goverment tax was not as high as it is may be these guys would not be able to sell them if you can get them cheaper some where else they will so the problem is the goverment.

  • Comment number 14.

    well, well, well, the dogs chasing its tail....after all these years of massive advertising on T,V. so called film stars rock stars etc looking so called cool smoking and getting the Joe public hooked and now the industry and most of all the government are again wingeing, winging, winging,they dont only want the british public to kill them selves off the want them to pay more tax for it when are we gonna stand up for these entrepaners, after all these ate the people who can get the country back on its feet not the government they dont encourage entrepaners what so ever, TAX TAX TAX,,,,THATS ALL THEY WANT, THY ARE NOT ONE BIT INTERESTED IN THE HEALTH OF THE NATION FOR GODS SAKE LOOK AT THE STATE OF THE N,H,S......P,S IM A NON SMOKER......

  • Comment number 15.

    The problem of illicit cigarettes is an inevitable consequence of excessive taxation. The tax drives up the price, and that attracts organized crime. Instead of any investigation of this fact, we got the usual hysterical reporting, and near-zero analysis of the causes. In short: Intellectually lazy reporting. Panorama should (and it must be said, usually does) do better.

  • Comment number 16.

    I agree with the other comments. I dont mind paying tax but if people know they can buy fags much cheaper (and its because of the tax the goverment has put on our fags in the first place to make them so expensive) then they will. Its our natural culture to find a bargin. All marketing is aimed at giving us the best and cheapest price so what do the goverment expect. I don't buy cheap fags myself but as a smoker i know the goverment has a monoply over the price of fags as people are addicted to them. You will always get people who are prepared to buy cheap if they can save money wether it be fags, booze, diesel, designer clothes or stuff from the back of a lorry etc...
    It does beg the question as others have pointed out - that if ther was reasonable tax on these products in the first place as to not make them so expensive, would it stamp out or reduce these black market practices and create more tax revenue probably with the added bonus of less criminals aswell.

  • Comment number 17.

    Who gave these career stingers the right to capture the ordinary members of the public on their sting? Cheap shot guys.

  • Comment number 18.

    85% tax? And who were you saying the organised criminals are? As usual, it seems like the grasping, greedy State who is at fault here. No doubt all passed into "law" by the corrupt expense fiddlers of Westminster. It also looked like the people who are most vulnerable to these counterfeit products were the poorer people in society. I doubt that our MP's will be smoking counterfeit cigarettes in the smoking rooms of Westminster (of course they exempted themselves from a law which is mercilessly enforced on the rest of us).

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    I have never smoked in my life but I think the way the smokers are demonised and charged exhorbitant prices and taxes must in some way be infringing their human rights. I was waiting outside a hospital recently and the loudspeaker went off loudly telling a man to put out his fag whilst spouting a lot of rot about health....I almost had a heart attack at the suddenness of it all and the poor man was having a fag to relieve his stress as his kid was in hospital. It is criminal the way hospital patients are seen in feet of snow and rain in their hospital gowns and invisible friends in all seasons forced outside hospital perimeters another of Britain's shame.

  • Comment number 21.

    Having watched your programme, I was upset by the BBC's handling of the story. It surely stands to reason that if an addictive product is taxed at such a high rate, then criminals will move in to exploit the poorest members of society. As stated in your programme, Britain is the second most expensive place to smoke in the world, with up to 80% of the cost being tax. As has been proven many times over, cost is the worst barrier to put in the way of an addiction, as is illegality, just look at the problems with all illegal drugs. I know it has been said many times before, but legalising many drugs, and selling them openly would vastly reduce the amount of crime inherent with their use.
    Reducing tobacco tax would also reduce the desirability of counterfeit products such as the tobacco and cigarettes in the program,as the genuine article would be available at a more realistic price. We cannot un-invent products like tobacco, and as I have said, overtaxing it will not stop people wanting to smoke, just drive them towards smuggled and counterfeit products. For every person who has given up smoking due to the cost, there must be ten others who have gone over to buying counterfeit goods rather than give up.

    One further comment, I have to question the common sense (and sanity) of anyone who would attempt to take goods back to someone selling counterfeit goods on the lanes of the Barras, especially when they knew that they were known criminals, with a camera crew, and say, "we are exposing you on the BBC". Had your reporter asked any Glaswegian, or even any Scot, if what she was planning was a good idea, I'm sure that, when they had got back up off the floor, and wiped the tears of laughter from their eyes, she would have been advised that this wasn't such a good idea!
    Surely the BBC had to do a risk assessment for this program? I'd love to read it!

  • Comment number 22.

    Can anyone get me the handsome guy from ayr markets phone number whos constantly on his phone or is it a bit of a pointless exercise im guessing it will always be engaged lol

  • Comment number 23.


  • Comment number 24.

    Guess wot it’s the british monarchy that taxes everything and guess wot they are freemasons aswell.

  • Comment number 25.

    i have not bought any cigs or bacci in this country for years now, i nip over the channel a couple of times a year, i refuse to pay the high taxes our government impose, they have created this problem, only they can solve it. but they wont due to the fascist anti smoking lobby, it's no skin off my nose £30.00 for a return ferry with my car and i'm sorted. if the tax was fair i'd pay like i used to, but as it's not so i pay the Belgium government tax, who's loosing out... it's not me.

  • Comment number 26.

    The piece about lead content in cigarettes, and the reporter's subsequent claim that smoking 30 these counterfeit cigarettes was the same as smoking 600 regular cigarettes - How could this be justified when there was then no desription or definition of what harm excess zinc would actually do to the smoker (if any?...). In any case smoking, as already pointed out by many, is an addiction not a health food - smokers are not idiots, they fully understand the damaging effects of their habit, the fact that these counterfeit cigarettes are perhaps 10% more damaging is not really a big deal compared to the 50% monetary saving.

    Would be interested to know what has become of the criminals in Glasgow - was the video evidence enough to warrant a criminal investigation? Or did the heavys just "suggest" to the BBC not to take it any further?

    In any case it is pointless to focus on the lady with the pink handbag, or the running chap in Ayr - really the focus of investigation needs to be aimed at the top tier of these organisations, apparently residing in China. If crackdowns are not made here then there will always be willing accomplices ready for a fast and easy buck in Scotland and across the UK.

  • Comment number 27.

    We are now told that the goverment is putting 950 million in the fight against tobacco bandit what a waste of money they will never stop it .This is the upper class way of keeping the working class down if i was an MP i wouldnt have to buy cheap baccy because i could fiddle my expenses Millions is spent on anti smoking by the nhs if we were all fit then no need for the nhs This goverment has gone mad on smoking if i was a prisoner i could smoke in my cell if im a soldier i cant smoke in my room where is the sens in that.This goverment is making a real mess of this country every day we get a medical expert on tv telling us that everything is bad for us smoking,drinking,red meat,what next breathing As said earlier cut tax on baccy and wipe out the bandit in one go common sens Mr Osborn if you got any

  • Comment number 28.

    what will it take for certain people(journalists, police etc) to realise that as long as our government feels the need to impose obscene amounts of tax on tobacco this will never stop. instead of moaning about the people who are selling the stuff, maybe its about time somebody looked at the reason why there is such high demand. supply and demand, and value for money, will always prevail over legality. the american mafia families built their fortunes during prohibition and still exist 80+yrs later. if history teaches us anything its that the public will always get what they want one way or another. theres no point trying to demonise the people who are saving the general public money because it falls on deaf ears.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just to start off i am a smoker. i have read a lot of the blogs already posted about how the taxes on tobacco products in the UK have contributed or caused the problems with people looking for cheaper products else where. i agree with this but lets not forget that the people selling FORGED ciggarettes in markets etc are Criminals, i work full time and i pay my taxes on everything. The people selling these Forged ciggarettes pay no tax so do not contribute towards the NHS, Public services, and they are not regulated so they will happily sell products to children because all they are interested in is money. This money does not go to helping society it is used to fund other criminal activities.

    I cannot afford to go on holiday at the moment but these criminals can, how is that fair so i dont like paying the goverment in taxes but i prefer it goes to them instead of dishonest criminals who make this world worse not better.

  • Comment number 30.

    No one advocates for lawlessness and certainly we all want a society that functions correctly and honourably but there needs to be closer examination and analysis of some of the figures highlighted in tonight’s Panorama.

    UK Plc. has allocated £950 million of tax-payers money to recover an estimated £100 million in duty lost to the “illegal tobacco trade”; is this really value for money when so many of our society are living on the bread-line, children are going hungry and every man, woman and child is expected to tighten their belts in order to meet the demands of greedy bankers expecting ten-figure bonuses (that’s a minimum of £10,000,000.00 each) and even greedier MPs who command huge salaries as well as perks and expenses that make the eyes of mere mortals weep.

    The worst hokum was from a so-called university professor (UCL no less) siting the figure of 30 times the lead content in the counterfeit tobacco as opposed to “safe” government tobacco – both he and the sensationalist presenter decided that since the “fake” cigarettes contained (we are told) 30 times the lead content of their “safe” counterparts it therefore meant that “each one you smoke (counterfeit) was equivalent to 30 (normal) (taxable) (regulated) (big government money spinning) cigarettes.

    This is poor science presented badly, the level of lead may be 30 times greater unfortunately the programme failed to point out that every other value was exactly the same as a regular cigarette; perhaps the biggest difference was the missing treasury income from the taxation thereon.

    Revenue from smokers pays for the NHS, so the government sanctions and justifies smoking despite the harm it does simply on the basis of the money it puts into the Treasury - how sick is this system?

    Come on Mr Government – let’s be more accurate with our propaganda science and let’s start getting value for money from you in the same way you expect value for money from the population; the £950million would pay for pension increases for the next 10 years; would build 5 new hospitals; 20 new academies to educate our young or pay for nursery care for every child in Britain for a year.

    This Panorama programme is just one in a long line of propaganda shows designed specifically to underpin the activities of the government and it’s our TV licence money that pays to investigate and feed this rubbish to us.

  • Comment number 31.

    Not sure about the propaganda line, but clearly the government is selective about their 'public health' issues. Many moons ago I wrote to Dr. Cunningham when BSE was at the forefront of public debate. I suggested to him that I was more likely to be knocked over by a bus crossing the road to get to the butcher's to buy beef on the bone than I was from dying from eating said beef, and that I was certainly more likely to die from smoking legally obtainable cigarettes (120,000 associated deaths/year at that time). I asked if the difference in tax revenue was a possible issue - guess what, I got no response!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    I too like last post strongly disagee with the claim that they can be 30 times more harmful Smoking is bad for your health. But theres much more too it than they let on like if your fags taste rank u will smoke less therefore be better off in long run , This is typical of programs like Panorama. they cant excactly say smoking snide baccy is good for you can they ?

  • Comment number 33.

    How much money does the government spend on methadone to help heroin addicts and last i checked herion is a illegal drug! Tobacco and cigs are perfectly legal but the government are continually targeting smokers because they know we will pay for our cigs and it makes them money through smokers addiction! But they pay out all this money for drug addicts to get a drug substitute for free, if they get their addiction fed the government should supply free tobacco (AND PIGS MITE FLY) How they can compare this 'organised crime' to the same as drugs, armed weapons and human trafficking is totally absurd, think there is a big difference between tobacco and heroin/cocaine/guns and humans! The government need to realise with the rise in unemployment and lack of jobs the public can not afford the ridiculous tax and VAT rises they keep increasing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    we never did hear what happened to the money on the roof lol

  • Comment number 35.

    As I travel to Amsterdam once a month,I buy my rolling tobacco from a reputable Dutch supermarket chain for use back home in the UK, this program pointed out that the tax stamp with the number 7069 was a fraudulent number, I went and checked the tax stamp number on my tobacco and the tax number is indeed 7069, though the whole of the tax stamp is 7069 EE,In the program the fraudulent tax stamp is QT 7069, as I doubt this supermarket chain would fail to notice counterfeit tobacco products I am a little bit skeptical about the assertion that 7069 is actually fraudulent tax stamp number in isolation, should it not include the lettering which accompanies the number, if anyone could verify that 7069
    by itself is actually fraudulent, then on my next visit to Amsterdam I will inform the proper authorities,I do not wish to smoke counterfeit
    tobacco, just buy tobacco tax paid in the country of origin at a reasonable price.

  • Comment number 36.

    "But theres much more too it than they let on like if your fags taste rank u will smoke less therefore be better off in long run , This is typical of programs like Panorama. they cant excactly say smoking snide baccy is good for you can they ?" From Supreme_one

    Brilliant! New scheme to give up smoking, only smoke rank fags and snide baccy you know it makes sense!

  • Comment number 37.

    Last nights programme was farcical I'll be amazed if Samantha Polings does not get sacked for she opened a new world for many people by actually showing them how easy it is to get cheaper cigarettes - and where from! Brilliant Sam, now I don't need to wait for man in white van anymore!
    The second point that leapt from the screen was just what a brilliant job the British government were doing in driving smokers & profiteers to these tobacco gangs! When so muh of each pouch of tobacco.packet of fags goes to the treasury it is no wonder these tobacco gangs earn so much money-fair play to them indeed!
    ASH (& others), you have had a major part to play in this you parasitic money grabbers. For years one of your favourite mantra's has been 'tax the smoker' and then, tax the smokers more' to such an extent that you have been part of this smuggling epidemic. The likes of Arnott & Duffy should be charged with aiding & abetting fraud for it is imbeciles such as these that have promoted the costs of tobacco products-which after all, are perfectly legal products!
    One only has to look at S Ireland to see the results:- admittance that tobacco revenue is DOWN by £1m per week. S Ireland is now dubbed the SMUGGLING CAPITAL of Europe. Smoking rates are UP 2%. Smuggled tobacco consumption is UP!
    Congratulations to all concerned, you have managed to 'high profile' a freedom of personal choice which was diminishing naturally decade by decade. I sincerely hope it costs this financially inept country every remaining penny it has!

  • Comment number 38.

    I do find it rather worrying that the leaders of this country have deliberately orchestrated this situation. For as long as I can remember, cigarettes and Tobacco has borne the brunt at every budget, and the goverment with a rather childlike innocence and often a little smirk congratulated themselves that this would batter the smokers into submission and reduce the prevelance of smoking, while at the same time raising valuable revenue.
    The word " greed " comes to mind and now it,s all backfiring.
    It does,nt take an Albert Einstein to work out that if the duty was reduced to a sensible level, all tobacco would be purchased here, in our shops, and the Government and the whole country would benefit from the extra duty.

  • Comment number 39.

    I blame the likes of ASH who keep on demanding that cigarettes should cost far more.
    Simple economics state that the higher the price the lower the demand, and the lower the price the higher the demand. Smuggled cigaretes cost far less. I buy my cigarettes from abroad where they cost a fraction of the price.
    If the price of cigarettes in the UK was lower more peole would buy their cigarettes from UK shops, which would mean more profits for our shops and the Government would receive far more in taxation.

  • Comment number 40.

    Most govt interference comes with unintended and usually worse consequences. JD Rockefeller writing 1932 before prohibition was lifted. He was anti drink, a tee totaller and supported prohibition. Still relevant to today.

    "When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before."

  • Comment number 41.

    johnniedee (35)
    I am a bit worried because like you I have one packet of duty-free Golden Virginia, purchased from Belgium at a reputable dealer. The number on my packet is 7069ER. Does anyone know - is this tobacco safe to smoke?
    If anyone can verify it is safe, I would appreciate it.

  • Comment number 42.

    its such a shame the BBC would stoop to ITV2 levels of titillation to grab a few viewers, the only thing missing was Katy Price's expert opinions
    Its also ridiculous the amount of money spent on trying to grab back what is supposedly lost, when all the government needs to do is make the real criminals, big business, pay the taxes they owe, more money is spent on making sure they don't pay. This would wipe out the nations money problems overnight, but that would never do, would it?
    shame on the BBC and shame on the government

  • Comment number 43.

    Everywhere in the world cigarettes are a lot cheaper. I think the BBc is secretly working for the dictatorship thats run this country since the end of the last war. I will buy cheap ciggys off anybody and couldnt care if its funding what the idiots in the police call 'Terrorism' (total bull) why are we the ones always hard done by this powerless little country.
    Todays smugglers and terrorists are tomorrows freedom fighters. Those cigarettes are exactly the same including chemical content as those sold in all the eec countries. Leave us alone please BBC or should it be called PBC. Propoganda Broadcasting Corporation!

  • Comment number 44.

    Why does it matter if people smuggle tobacco? So fake tobacco is more poisonous than "Big tobacco" tobacco? "Big tobacco" already makes grossly obscene profits from an extremely poisonous product, and taxes still don't touch the total health service bill for tobacco-caused health problems or do very much to discourage smokers, nor do they justify how much money is spent on trying to stop smuggling. Legal tobacco companies operate on extremely dodgy moral values themselves. Why don't we stop taxing people for the products they buy and tax them properly and fairly according to their income? Smugglers would instantly be out of business and we wouldn't have to spend so much on customs - and the cost of cigarettes does nothing to stop people smoking. Oh, I forgot, our country is run by grasping, obscenely wealthy people whose main concern is to keep as much of their wealth as possible for themselves and pay as little income tax as possible, whilst telling ordinary people they have to suffer for the debts created by their mates, the bankers. No wonder people get hooked on small, unhealthy pleasures! Legalize organically cottage-grown cannabis leaf - then at least smokers get some genuine pleasure from their poison, and smoke less of it because it's much less addictive!

  • Comment number 45.

    I think the program only addresses half of the issue. The reporter's emphasis was on the revenues lost by government, and that it is the tax payer that has to pay the price of this lost revenue. If we are to believe our government, this isn't strictly true. The government tries to convince us that we should all give up smoking, and go to great pains to make smoking a "pariah" habit. The truth is, that if the government really want's us to all stop smoking, there would be no tax revenues to collect at all. So who would make up the tax void left by legitimate tobacco sales? Clearly, there is another episode of this investigation that needs investigating and broadcasting. What is the government's true aim here. After all, you can't complain about losing revenues to tobacco bandits on one hand, when on the other, you're doing everything possible to minimise those revenues from legitimate tobacco sales.

  • Comment number 46.

    I greatly admired the presenter's ability to pout and say the word 'den' at the same time. I particularly liked the classy shot of our reporter working late in front of the open fire. Did you borrow Liz Hurley's house? I shall now always look twice when I see a Chinese man carrying a pack of cigarette papers. Has Roger Cook had a sex change?

  • Comment number 47.

    My husband died 5 years ago from three completely blocked and tarred up arteries in his heart. He used to smoke the cheapest boot legged tobacco going round the town, and it used to smell foul. Even though I packed up smoking years ago, I had a quick puff of one of his roll ups and could feel it burning the inside of my throat. I questioned why he could enjoy smoking it. He also had the early stages of Parkinsons when he died at the age of 67 years. Reading through alot of the comments, alot of people seem to miss the point of the even more serious health hazzard of smoking this even more deadly form of tobacco.

  • Comment number 48.

    I watched this programe on demand last night and was horrified about the counterfeit tobacco. I have been buying the bootleg backy only because to be honest it's cheaper than whats in the shops and it's the tax thats dearer not the product. If you go to spain you can buy the same product a hell of a lot cheaper. I have checked the two pouches of backy i have left and they are counterfeit (7069) Addiction is a bag thing dont blame the smokers for trying to save some money its the people on the streets now they even selling stuff that got masses of lead content in the fake backy. I will now have to bite the bullet and buy my backy from the shops at least i know its real.

  • Comment number 49.

    I live in Glasgow and my partner came home yesterday with four packs of 50g of Golden Virginia in its packet and all looks ok but i look at the stamp ad it has the numbers 7069 ES

    Is this one of the fake ones

  • Comment number 50.

    I seriously think that the makers of this program need to clarify if Euopean 7069 taxed stamped packets are counterfeit.

  • Comment number 51.

    Nozz I totally agree with you on that one as so many people are confused. BBC please can you tell us if Euopean 7069 taxed stamped packets are counterfeit ???

  • Comment number 52.

    I only watch these things weeks later hence the late post. I don't smoke so I am not an interested party, but I can see that again Panorama have an agenda which backs up the government one. Shoddy reporting. Leaps of logic..The worst thing they could say about one seller was that he had an acquaintance who had committed some sort of violent act in the past. Translation- they could not find anything on the guy himself and had to start looking at his associates before they found anything remotely bad-sounding. The same could be said of almost anyone I expect. Certainly the BBC employees must know someone who has been in a bar fight?? Pathetic. They were obviously trying to scare us and turn us against the tobacco sellers.

    There was no illustration of the counter argument- the reason why the smuggling of tobacco happens in the first place. The govt is so blinkered; they are losing money primarily due to their own greed.

    Obviously the taxation is ludicrous. The people have spoken- they want cheap tobacco and the most law-abiding citizen thinks nothing of buying a smuggled packet or two. Just like our forebears happily bought smuggled tea in the 18th century beacause the govt had taxed it sky high. Again, the answer is to reduce the tax on the goods concerned.

    If the govt thinks it costs them too much in lost revenue-they should blame themselves; their greed has created the gap in the market. Anyhow I thought the government wanted to encourage enterprise, small business and a free market??

  • Comment number 53.

    Well, well, well. What a waste of time and money ! The criminals selling the counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco are STILL selling their wares every week at the Sunday Market at Ayr Racecourse and the local Police appear to be unwilling or unable to shut down their operation. Presumably the Glasgow Police have had the same level of success in their fight against crime !
    However, the local Trading Standards section of the South Ayrshire Council have produced their latest deadly weapon in their fight against criminality : a LEAFLET !!!!! This Leaflet explains in great detail why the illegal tobacco trade is so dangerous but it is a complete waste of time and money as the purchasers of illegal tobacco are interested only in making a financial saving and nothing else ! They know that the NHS wiil look after them, regardless of cost, when they need premature care in the future. Their is no way stupidity can be legislated against.

  • Comment number 54.

    when will all the people of the world stand up and say enough is enough
    Basically the real criminals are pretty much all the governments of the world
    exploiting the smokers like slaves
    Basically in Britain for instance 1kg tea (a cultivated crop same as tobacco)
    cost £1 and 60 pence whereas 1kg tobacco costs £160
    a hundred fold difference
    case closed
    sack the governments and time the governments and everyone else stopped criminalising the good citizens of their own countries

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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