Students warned after cigarettes seized in Cardiff

Students in Cardiff are being warned not to get involved in cigarette smuggling after parcels containing non-duty paid foreign brands were seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

In the last week, officers have seized 45 parcels of illegal cigarettes destined for student properties in the Cathays area of Cardiff.  The consignments of Chinese ‘illicit whites’ – brands such as Nan Jing, Eight and Ten – are not legally sold in the UK. Enquiries suggest that smugglers are persuading students to use their addresses for the deliveries.

Colin Spinks, Assistant Director, HMRC said:

“Our investigations suggest that students are allowing their addresses to be used for deliveries of illegal cigarettes. In doing so, they directly aid criminality and risk a criminal record themselves.

“Cigarette smuggling isn’t a victimless crime. Shopkeepers selling legitimate, duty-paid products are harmed by this unfair competition and the buyers of these lower-quality cheap imports purchase a completely unregulated product. The evaded duty impacts directly on public services that we all use every day. A ‘cheap smoke’ is no bargain.”

Anyone offered cheap cigarettes should be wary – you could be buying into organised crime. To make sure you are buying a legitimate product, you should avoid:

·  tobacco products without health warnings or with warnings not in English

·  tobacco products without the “UK DUTY PAID” fiscal mark

·  unusual or foreign brands not usually sold in the UK

·  poor quality packaging

·  complaints from customers that the tobacco products don’t taste right

Anyone with information about cigarette or tobacco smuggling can tell HMRC by calling the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.

Notes for editors

1. In the last two years, almost 3.6 billion illicit cigarettes and 1,050 tonnes of tobacco have been seized in the UK. This has led to 431 prosecutions and more than 1,600 assessments and penalties issued. Criminal proceedings can be applied to anyone handling illegal tobacco goods, including carrying, removing, depositing and keeping them.

2. The 45 parcels seized contained about 45,000 cigarettes, with a further 7,000 seized at properties searched by HMRC. Investigations are continuing.

3. Follow HMRC on Twitter at @hmrcgovuk

4. HMRC’s Flickr channel