Ipswich/Felixstowe: High volume of illegal cigarettes in towns could be linked to port

Cab driver caught smoking in his car

Cab driver caught smoking in his car - Credit: PA

NEW figures have revealed more than a third of cigarettes being smoked in Ipswich are illegal, costing the taxpayer millions of pounds.

A survey of empty and discarded cigarette packs in the last three months of 2012 revealed that nearly 34% were either counterfeit or had been smuggled into the country.

In the last quarter of 2011, the figure stood at 27%.

Ipswich has the 23rd highest level of illicit cigarettes out of 105 cities and towns visited for the MSIntelligence survey.

Nearly 13,000 packs were studied for the survey.

Former Scotland Yard inspector Will O’Reilly is conducting research to gain intelligence on the issue.

He said: “Just as armed robberies of the 70s and 80s made way for the drugs trade and large-scale fraud in the 90s, so a new crime of choice has emerged, which carries even less risk and even greater profits.

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“The trade in illicit tobacco has become the primary source of revenue for some criminal gangs and terrorist groups and it has already reached epidemic proportions in some parts of the UK.”

Places chosen for the survey were areas with populations of more than 100,000 people and the packs were taken from streets and easy access bins.

Gillingham, in Kent, was revealed to have the worst problem, with more than half of cigarettes being smoked there coming from the black market.