Tobacco smuggling is killing more people than illegal drugs

October 09, 2008

Tobacco smuggling causes around 4,000 premature deaths a year--four times the number of deaths caused by the use of all smuggled illegal drugs put together--but the UK government is not doing enough to tackle the problem, claim experts on bmj.com today.

Professor Robert West from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre and colleagues argue that more smokers would quit if cigarettes cost more, but at around half the price, smuggled tobacco is keeping the prices down.

Around 21% of all tobacco smoked in the UK is smuggled into the country. If there were no smuggling, the price of legal tobacco would increase by around 12%. According to the authors, this would lead to 5-8% of smokers kicking the habit -- saving at least 4000 lives a year.

A reduction in tobacco smuggling would also help reduce health inequalities because low income smokers are more likely to use smuggled tobacco and they are also more likely to quit because of price increases.

While the authors acknowledge that tobacco smuggling has reduced considerably since the government 'Tackling Tobacco Smuggling' strategy was announced in 2000, they argue that more needs to be done and call for more action and resources to tackle the problem.

For example, the UK government has not followed the lead of all the other European Union countries and has failed to sign up to legally enforceable agreements with the two tobacco companies, Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International, to ensure that they tightly control and regulate distribution and stop supplying contractors involved in smuggling.

The authors point out that because public targets for reducing smuggling into the UK were dropped in March this year, the HM Revenue and Customs can no longer be held publicly accountable for performance in this area. They believe that when the new UK Border Agency take over responsibility for cross-border control later this year, there will be a risk that tobacco smuggling will be sidelined by the main focus of immigration.

They conclude by urging the UK Government to set out comprehensive measures and clear targets for the UK Border Agency to control the illegal tobacco, and for the government to support negotiations, currently underway, for a strong international treaty to tackle smuggling.
-end-


BMJ

Related Smokers Articles from Brightsurf:

Examining e-cigarette use among current, former smokers
National survey data were used to look at how common electronic cigarette use is among US adults, if they were current or former smokers and used e-cigarettes to help quit smoking.

Smokers good at math are more likely to want to quit
For smokers who are better at math, the decision to quit just adds up, a new study suggests.

Lung development may explain why some non-smokers get COPD and some heavy smokers do not
According to a new study, people with small airways relative to the size of their lungs may have a lower breathing capacity and, consequently, an increased risk for COPD -- even if they don't smoke or have any other risk factors.

Is e-cigarette use associated with relapse among former smokers?
Whether use of electronic cigarettes among former cigarette smokers was associated with an increased risk of smoking relapse was examined with the use of nationally representative survey data.

Ex-smokers, light smokers not exempt from lung damage
A new study shows that smoking even a few cigarettes a day is harmful to lungs and that former smokers continue to lose lung function at a faster rate than never-smokers for decades after quitting.

Study of smokers, former smokers in France examines electronic cigarette use association with smoking reduction, relapse
An observational study based on a group of smokers and former smokers in France looked at whether electronic cigarette use was associated with changes in the number of cigarettes smoked, with smoking cessation rates among smokers, and with smoking relapse among former smokers.

Obese people outnumber smokers two to one
New figures from Cancer Research UK show that people who are obese now outnumber people who smoke two to one in the UK, and excess weight causes more cases of certain cancers than smoking, as the charity urges government action to tackle obesity.

New clues about why non-smokers, as well as smokers, develop chronic lung disease revealed
A group of researchers led by the universities of Leicester and Nottingham has discovered genetic differences that put some people at higher risk than others of developing chronic lung disease.

Misperceptions about vaping common among UK smokers
Research from King's College London finds smokers and ex-smokers in the UK overestimate the harm from vaping, with fewer than 6 out of 10 accurately believing that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

Smokers who roll their own less inclined to quit
Smokers who roll their own cigarettes are less likely to try quitting smoking, according to a new study carried out by UCL.

Read More: Smokers News and Smokers Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.