The Government’s Budget announcement of an 8% rise in tobacco duty, despite recent data from JTI warning that one in every four cigarettes smoked in the UK is not taxed, has stunned the tobacco manufacturer.

A statement from the company said the increase was the fourth large tax increase on tobacco since March 2010, adding well over £1 on a typical packet of cigarettes in just two years, and latest figures from HMRC show that the Treasury already loses up to £3.1 billion in tax revenue from illegal tobacco sales each year.

Martin Southgate, managing director of JTI UK, commented: “Following this increase crime bosses will be tapping on their calculators to work out their new profit margins and how to get more customers to buy from their already burgeoning supply chain. Why make it easier for criminals to make money? More focus needs to be given to eradicating this crime and the authorities must use their powers to seize the profits made by these criminals and put them in jail for a length of time that befits their crime.”