Kent Messenger Maidstone
Concerns raised over plain packaging plan
A NEWSAGENT has warned government plans to introduce plain packaged cigarettes could boost counterfeit packets.
Christine Southern, who runs Southerns News in Mangravet Avenue with husband Nick, fears the proposal would make it easier for illegal traders to disguise illicit ciggies.
She said: “I buy our stock from a cash and carry but some people are more naive and use door-to-door sellers. It’s those people who could end up buying counterfeit goods, and they could contain all sorts of ingredients.
“Plain packaging would leave the way open for counterfeit cigarettes. Plus, I don’t see the point when all stockists will have to have their cigarettes off display by 2015.”
According to MSIntelligence, a survey agency, 33.3% of all packets in the South East are either illegal or purchased outside of the UK.
Maidstone had the 12th highest rate of non-domestic cigarettes in the country with a rate of 36.18% – higher than the regional average. Gillingham came out worse with 54.5% of surveyed packets identified as non-duty paid.
HM Revenue and Customs estimate smuggled cigarettes cost the taxpayer up to £3.6 billion in revenue during 2009 and 2010.
The idea for plain branding comes after it was rolled out in Australia. The government launched a consultation on plans to introduce mandatory standardised packaging for all tobacco products.
However, the proposal was not mentioned in the Queen’s speech and prompted suspicions it has been quietly shelved.