Committee to investigate tobacco smuggling

23 July 2013

Home Affairs Committee announce new inquiry into tobacco smuggling

The Home Affairs Committee is today launching an inquiry into tobacco smuggling and the trade in illicit tobacco.
The inquiry will consider what could and should be done to reduce tobacco smuggling, and to disrupt the illegal trade in tobacco within the UK, including:

  • Why the number of arrests, prosecutions and convictions for tobacco smuggling have fallen over the past three years;
  • Why Border Force failed to meet its operational targets for tobacco seizure in 2012–13;
  • Whether the current sanctions and penalties for tobacco smuggling are appropriate;
  • The similarities and differences in patterns of tobacco smuggling in the UK and Ireland, how they affect on each other, and the implications of the restrictions on National Crime Agency operations in Northern Ireland;
  • The possible impact of the introduction of standardised packaging in Ireland on the quantity and availability of illegal tobacco in the UK; and
  • The relationship between tobacco smuggling, organised crime and paramilitary activity.

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“Tobacco smuggling is a significant threat to UK tax revenues and to public health. Yet duty is evaded on nearly one cigarette in ten, and more than a third of all hand-rolling tobacco. This is costing the taxpayer nearly £2 billion per year.
The UK has one of the highest rates of tobacco duty in the EU, which makes it one of the most lucrative markets for smugglers. The role of Border Force is therefore vital in reducing the supply of illicit tobacco. We will be looking at the scale of the problem and what more can be done to tackle it.”

Further information

The Committee invites written submissions on these issues by midday on Thursday 29 August 2013.

Each submission should:
a) be no more than 3,000 words in length
b) be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible
c) have numbered paragraphs
d) include a declaration of interests.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked "tobacco smuggling".

Please note that:

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

The remit of the Home Affairs Committee is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.

Image: iStockphoto

Share this page