One in six UK cigarettes from black market

MORE than one in six cigarettes smoked in the UK has been bought illegally, costing the Treasury billions in lost tax revenues, a new report claims.

Research from KPMG claims that illicit cigarettes accounted for 16.4 per cent of the UK market in 2012, above the EU average of 11.1 per cent. It also claimed that the UK was the fastest growing black market in the EU, with illicit cigarette sales up from 10 per cent the year before.

The research was commissioned by Marlboro owner Philip Morris International, one of a number of tobacco firms campaigning against the introduction of plain cigarette packaging by claiming it will boost illegal trade.

The report claimed that total tax losses across the EU were €12.5bn (£10.7bn) and that the black market has risen six years in a row.