In the week JTI had its knuckles rapped by the ASA for suggesting the illicit tobacco trade was “booming”, rival Philip Morris has published new research showing black market sales are, er, booming.
An empty discarded pack collection survey across the UK by MS Intelligence found bootlegged, smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes accounted for 26.4% of all packs found in the final quarter of 2012, the highest level since the survey began in 2008.
In Gillingham and Poole, over 50% of recovered packs were either non-UK duty paid, counterfeits or cheap whites. And though in London use was down from 36.5% in Q4 2011 to 34.8%, in most other UK regions, there was a huge rise in illicit packs. The percentage of black market packs found in the South East increased from 16.8% to 33.3% and from 14.7% to 32.8% in the South West.
This week, the ASA upheld a complaint from Cancer Research into JTI’s assertion the illicit trade was booming in its recent anti-plain packaging ads. The ASA relied on an HMRC report claiming the trade had been cut significantly in the last decade.
Shipments fell 10% to the European Union for Philip Morris in Q1 results out on Thursday, Overall profits for the Altria spinoff fell from $2.16bn to $2.13bn.