Latest estimates from Japan Tobacco International (JTI) have revealed that, on average, over a quarter (27%) of tobacco smoked across the country is non-UK duty paid (NUKDP), leading to revenue loss to the Treasury of billions of pounds. Although this latest data represents a continuation of a declining trend in NUKDP, JTI says tax increases in the Budget could undermine the progress that has been made.

Estimates of NUKDP consumption, made by both HM Revenue & Customs and JTI, have traditionally looked at cigarettes and roll-you-own (RYO) separately. However, as the Government evaluates smoking trends by reference to those who smoke cigarettes and/or RYO JTI has looked at our data for 2011 and calculated overall levels of NUKDP tobacco consumption.

Martin Southgate, managing director of JTI UK, said the company was very concerned that tax increases anticipated in the Budget on March 21 would increase cigarette and RYO prices to a level even further ahead of other EU countries such as Spain, Beligum and Poland: "Criminal gangs would welcome another boost to their ill-gotten profits and with many cigarette packs sold in the UK now over £7, a fourth tax increase in two years will help them market their fakes to even more customers, including children.

"There is a tobacco display ban on the horizon and a consultation planned for the spring to discuss options to introduce uniform packaging, increasing the tax just doesn’t make any sense. Why make it easier for criminals to make money? The Government should be helping us to eradicate this crime by using their powers to seize the profits made by these criminals and put them in jail for a length of time that befits this serious crime."