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Illegal tobacco sellers double dealing

THE DOUBLE dealing of dodgy distributors of tobacco has been exposed by Dundee trading standards.

A number of seizures in the past month have found that not only is the product potentially dangerous but the dealers are also cheating on quantities.

Craig Melville, convener of Dundee City Council’s environment committee said: “After our officers made the seizures they checked the weight of what was being sold.

“They found that the traders in this illicit tobacco, which sells for between £5 and £7 a 50 gramme pouch, are cheating customers by under filling them by around 25%!

“When they’re overcharging by as much as £1.75 per pack, this double dealing is obviously increasing their profits.”

The packaging is doctored to look like ‘Duty Free’ product as a way of explaining the low cost, but what is being sold is an inferior substance with no relationship to the legitimate manufacturer.

Trading Standards have warned that buying tobacco from an illegal source carries a number of risks, including:
• Health dangers- these unregulated products are not subject to quality control and in the past have been found to contain up to 30 times the amount of lead in genuine tobacco products;
• Damage to the economy- smugglers and sellers of counterfeit products pay no duty on the tobacco and no tax on their profits, denying UK taxpayers an estimated £4 billion every year;
• Organised Crime- the source and major profit makers of counterfeiting have been found to fund criminal gangs involved in drugs and prostitution; and
• Undermining key tobacco control policy as price levels are set to encourage smokers to reduce or give up. 

Cllr Melville added: “Because this sort of business is done in the shadows it is very difficult to tell how widespread it is.

“But it is prevalent enough that last summer the Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA) said that one in 11 corner shops in Scotland was under threat because of it and local newsagents were also expressing their concerns.”

If you have any information on individuals selling illicit or counterfeit tobacco please contact Trading Standards in confidence on 01382 436260 or email trading.standards@dundeecity.gov.uk
 



Press Release Date: Thursday 21 February 2013