So ciggies will soon be kept under the counter, will they? Out of sight, out of mind? Yeah right.

Tobacco products are not impulse purchases, so removing them from display is about as likely to stop smokers buying fags as rehab is to stop Charlie Sheen doing drugs. In fact, it could inadvertently boost sales, by making cigarettes seem illicit and desirable.

As for the idea of forcing tobacco into plain packaging, that's not so much ignoring the elephant in the room, as walking up to it, giving it a pat on the head and saying, hey big guy, the room's all yours the elephant being the burgeoning trade in counterfeit cigarettes, of course.

If the government really wants to improve the nation's health, this is where it should be focusing its attention. We all know the problem is escalating half the illicit tobacco in the UK is now counterfeit but did you realise most of the counterfeit tobacco came from China and contained 30 times the lead of legitimate cigs (so someone chuffing a pack of 20 is actually smoking the equivalent of 600)? No, me neither.

That wasn't the only shocking statistic in this week's Panorama investigation, Smoking and the Bandits (8.30pm BBC1, Monday 7 March).

The programme, which featured a store where the fags were already under the counter (or more accurately inside it), revealed that the counterfeit fags produced in one Glasgow flat alone accounted for lost taxes of £100k. Indeed, the gig was so lucrative, claimed one expert, that even if the smugglers lost nine out of 10 shipping containers, they'd still be quids in.

The gangs involved were as slick as they were ruthless. Reporter Samantha Poling spent weeks tracking one that operated out of Ayr Market and it was like something out of The Wire especially when in the absence of the money man, two members surreptitiously tossed bundles of cash onto a nearby roof, presumably to collect later.

They were violent too. Poling nearly came a cropper when she confronted a member of a gang at Glasgow's Barras Market and a bloke attacked her with a six-foot metal pole. You have to wonder as she did whether the £900m given to HM Revenue & Customs to tackle fraud is anywhere near enough.

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