Cigarette smuggling is big business. It’s global. Almost as big - bigger some maintain - as the legitimate cigarette business. Giant tobacco firms profiteer from it effortlessly.
EU and national government efforts to do something about it have been reported religiously as a favourite cause by Private Eye over the years. So far there’s been little success. Now, the current Eye reveals, things are changing. Though Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary, still refuses to publish her department’s latest report. So there’s no saying whether or not the change is for the better.
Among the quotes, conjecture and background in the Eye piece there’s a snippet from Kenneth Clarke, cigar-smoking deputy chairman of BAT - British American Tobacco, one of the profiteering giants – and former Tory chancellor. ‘We act,’ Clarke says, ‘on the basis that our brands will be available alongside those of our competitors in the smuggled as well as the legitimate market.’
Crooked or straight, good or bad, black market or white, the brand must go on. Where commodity trust is at stake there are no rules.