22 million counterfeit cigarettes found in Wales

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A cigarette
Image: Tomasz Sienick.

22 million counterfeit cigarettes have been found in Cardiff, Wales by officials working for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). They had an estimated value of five million GBP and impersonated the Classic Gold and Raquel brands of cigarette.

The details of the discovery, which took place on December 19 last year, has only just been made public.

The HMRC have stated that they have worked to find the source of the illegal products during the time since the discovery was made. The assistant director of criminal investigation for the organisation, Andrew Pavlinic, explained the reasons for this. "Had it been successful, it would have undermined the business of honest traders who only sell duty paid tobacco products," he continued. "The sheer quantity involved in this attempt suggests these cigarettes could have ended up in locations across the UK."

What, if anything, should governments do to stop the flow of counterfeit cigarettes into their countries?

"We have prevented UK consumers from being conned into buying cigarettes that are counterfeit and could have more serious risk to health than legitimate brands."

The discovery was the largest hoard of cigarettes found by custom officials in the whole of 2008, although several other significant stashes were found throughout the year. For example, nine million counterfeit cigarettes were found in Suffolk in August, and eight million were found in Belfast in May.