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"Illicit trade driven by exorbitant taxation and other tobacco control policies"

Fri 29th May, 2015

Forest has accused the World Health Organisation (WHO) of "hypocrisy" for making illicit trade a theme of World No Tobacco Day (31st May).

According to WHO, which organises the global campaign, one in every ten cigarettes and many tobacco products consumed worldwide are illegal.

WHO wants governments to ratify the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and has called on the public, academia and other sectors to take action to make their countries parties to the protocol.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' rights group Forest, said:

"There's a simple reason why illicit trade is such a problem. Tobacco control campaigners repeatedly demand massive hikes in tobacco duty. This not only boosts the illegal tobacco trade, it drives elderly and low-paid smokers into poverty.

"Let's end this hypocrisy now. What we need are sensible, pragmatic policies that don't discriminate against law-abiding consumers who buy their tobacco from legitimate retailers."

Forest also denounced plain packaging and the forthcoming ban on menthol cigarettes.

"Prohibition doesn't work," said Clark. "Criminal gangs will be only too happy to meet demand for flavoured cigarettes. As for plain packaging, that's going to be a godsend for black marketeers.

"Instead of berating others for the growth of illicit trade, the tobacco control industry should look closer to home."

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