HM Revenue and Customs
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Government and industry take a significant step in the fight against tobacco smuggling

Government and industry take a significant step in the fight against tobacco smuggling

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 15 July 2010

Justine Greening, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, today signed significant anti-smuggling agreements with the international tobacco manufacturer British American Tobacco (BAT).

The agreements complement existing legislation that requires all tobacco manufacturers to prevent smuggling through careful control of their supply chains.

They will facilitate better control of tobacco smuggling with enhanced co-operation from other Member States as a result of better working relationships with EU partners. They will also hold the tobacco manufacturers accountable for their actions and encourage responsible trade by requiring BAT to make substantial annual payments to the EU and participating Member States over a period of years and to put in place measures to control the supply and distribution of their products.

BAT will also be required to make supplemental payments to Member States if their product is found smuggled in significant volumes. In return, the manufacturers are released from any civil claims arising out of past conduct relating to illicit trade.

Justine Greening said:

“These agreements are an important step forward in the fight against tobacco smuggling. Signing them sends a clear and consistent signal that we are working in step with the EU, other Member States and tobacco manufacturers to tackle the illicit trade in tobacco products.”

Notes to Editors

1. Since the UK’s first Tackling Tobacco Smuggling strategy was published in 2000, HM Revenue & Customs and the UK Border Agency have:

reduced the proportion of illicit cigarettes from 21 per cent in 2000 to 13 per cent;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 £35m worth of confiscation orders.

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