Tag Archives: cigarettes

Smugglers get teenagers into trafficking cigarettes

Smuggling tobacco products to UK is getting so hugely profitable that smugglers even started to offer teenagers free trips to Spain in exchange for bringing cigarettes with them to the country.

According to UK Customs authorities, they are confiscating up to 50 million of smokes, and it becomes evident that criminal gangs are using teenagers to smuggle cigarettes into Britain by giving them flight tickets and money to have holidays in those European countries where cigarettes are less expensive.

cigarettes traffic in Europe

Officials state that 15-year-old boys and girls are asked to select minor airports like in Exeter, or Newcastle to travel to Europe, in order to escape detection. The most popular place to smuggle cigarettes from is Spanish tourist paradise – Canary Islands.

Gangsters book cheap flight tickets and give adolescents suitcases, to put there as many cartons of cigarettes as possible.

A UK Customs Department spokesman reported that in majority of cases the youngsters didn’t know that they were exploited by criminal syndicates involved in cigarette smuggling, Europe most booming type of organized crime, which emerged recently.

The spokesman said that cigarette smuggling became an integral part of modern organized crime, involving international criminal syndicates that as well take part in human trafficking and drug contraband.

In august, three 17 year olds from Exeter were detained with almost 200.000 illicit cigarettes in their luggage. September,1st a Newcastle boy barely avoided criminal charges after being arrested in local airport with 10.000 smokes in a suitcase. It was his fourth trip to Canary Islands, according to the documents.

In other case, five teenage girls were detained in Robin Hood airport with 100.000 cigarettes in the suitcases. Firstly, they said it was not their luggage, but after two days in jail admitted that were employed by a gang to stock up with cigarettes in return for a four-day free tour to Tenerife.

The girls refused to give police officers names or coordinates of organizers of their trips, but the policemen think that they are scarred for their families who could be intimidated by criminals.

Each of four girls carried 25.000 cigarettes which equals to £2,500 in lost taxes.

Customs spokesman reported that from the beginning of 2009 and up to this moment of time they officers have seized approximately 350 million of smuggled cigarettes, what could result in £65 million loss in duties from the budget.

Cigarette industry is also concerned with huge drops in profits. British American Tobacco, the largest cigarette maker in UK and major rival Imperial Tobacco declared that they have lost £600 million in profits last year.

Officials suggest smuggling cigarettes is becoming popular among syndicates mainly because of enormous profits it can provide.

Smugglers often distribute single-cigarettes or packs for about a half of their retail prices in the shops The UK is home to Europe’s highest cigarette prices, with a pack of cigarettes costing around £6 ($10) in Britain.

Maryland ridiculous tax policy prompts smokers to hit the road

During the first six months of 2009, the volume of tobacco products sales across Maryland have fallen by 25. Have the 25 percent of regular smokers that live in Maryland simultaneously dropped smoking looking for a healthy life? I don’t think so.

The major reason for such a dramatic drop is the increase in the state cigarette taxes, that made Maryland become the fourth state in the list of state with highest cigarette taxes.

Maryland smokers currently have to pay $2 for each pack of cigarettes they buy across the state. The previous tax was $1-per pack.

Tobacco tax revenue

One part of smokers decided to limit the consumption of precious smokes, and the other part simply turned their heads to flourishing black market.

Legislators state that they have increased cigarette taxes to help Maryland smokers kick down their harmful habit in favor of a more healthy life. However, this statement is rather ridiculous since the last thing that those adult smokers need is a nanny state telling them what they should do.

Nevertheless, as we all understand the actual aim of the tax increase is collecting more money to help cash-strapped state to cope with dramatic hole in the budget that local government has created by their own. Their intentions are rather clear, since it became popular recently to tax the unpopular minority instead of protecting their personal rights and freedoms.

Thus, as the independent analysts had anticipated, the amount of profit generated by exceptional tobacco taxes has been mush smaller than the government expected. It is just another proof to the axiom that lack of economic knowledge results in revenue losses.

Before approving the tax increase, the Maryland lawmakers should have looked on the state map better. The matter is that every state neighboring Maryland has lower cigarette taxes: Pennsylvania has a $1.35-a-pack, Delaware’s smokers pay $1.15 tax, Virginia is home to one of the lowest taxes in the nation with modest 30 cents per pack, and West Virginia has 55 cent-per pack cigarette tax. Since Maryland is very small in size, its residents prefer to cross the borderline to stock up for cigarettes in the neighboring states.

It was proven a long time ago, that the more restrictions the lawmakers place on a product, the more flourishing the black market becomes. Smokers seek cheaper cigarettes and the black market supplies them, so it is not surprising that police authorities claim they expect the number of detained cigarettes smugglers to double this year in comparison to the previous years.

Maryland authorities state thy have taken control on the smugglers of cigarettes. Police agents have been standing across the borders of Maryland to detain every person who has more cigarettes in their cars than the legal limit permits (two packs), and every individual caught on smuggling would face hefty fines and even prison terms.

Well, in my humble opinion, it is just a plain stupid initiative. I do really think that police officers should better crack down the gangs of smugglers instead of detaining people looking for the opportunities to buy cigarettes at lower cost since they simple could not afford paying $8 for every cigarette pack.




Smoke-free movies campaign is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Part 1

The “Smoke-free Movies” campaign was initiated last week with a truck driving a billboard where people could see a teenage girl thinking, “Which movie will make me to smoke this summer?” That billboard could be seen driving nearby the major Hollywood movie studios.

The authors of the recent campaign include the American Medical Alliance, California Public Health Department and some other anti-smoking organizations. The representatives of aforementioned organizations declared that they will do their best to secure a R rating by the Motion Picture Association rating system for all films which contain smoking scenes in order to force movie producers to avoid showing smoking in future films as a hidden product placement strategy.movie billboard smoking They also said that the moving billboard would make scheduled stops nearby every significant film studio. In addition, the Medical Alliance representative stated they would track all the movies released this summer and the studio that filmed the largest number of movies with smoking scenes and the company with the worst record of summer smoking films will get a specially designed sarcastic billboard in front of the main entrance this fall.

Up till now, the recently initiated campaign has only managed to find one spring box-office film, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” that placed Fox studio in the strong leading position in the list of movies depicting smoking. The Alliance cites the main character Wolverine hanging around with a cigar between his lips in several scenes of the movie, whereas Fox executives has responding by confirming the fact that the superhero never actually smoked it in the film, although he was a chin-smoker in the comic-book.

Another May box-office leading film with smoking scenes was Angels & Demons, which showed the Cardinals put out their cigarettes going to conclave meeting. But, nobody smoked or at least had a cigarette in the mouth in a major scene, which lasted a couple of seconds. However, the health activists hastened placing the movie among those showing smoking on big screens.

Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, the smoke-free tendency would instantly come to nothing with the release of The Adventures of Marlboro and Ciggy Puff in mid summer. Parents, be aware.

The America Motion Picture Association chairman stated they already elaborated an amendment to the rating system with drawing attention to smoking in movies when rating a new film and providing parents with a description of the scenes that might be inappropriate for their children. He also declared that health organizations request for “R” rating to any movie containing at least one smoking scene would be extreme and unacceptable suggestion.” However, because the agency responsible for movie rating is sponsored by the studios, such thing is impossible to happen at least in the nearest future…To be continued…