In determining its taxation policy, the government obviously looks at statistics and interprets a fall in cigarette sales to equate to a decline in the number of people smoking. 

It needs to take stock and realise that tobacco sales are falling, not because less people are smoking but because more are buying cigarettes on the black market! 

If smuggling continues to grow it is estimated that by 2005 almost 75% of cigarette consumption in the UK could be non-duty paid, an astonishing figure. This will have a terrible effect on independent retailers, who are already facing a current loss of £50,000 a year in sales as a result of tobacco smuggling. 

To combat smuggling the government needs to bring the UK's tobacco tax levels more in line with the rest of Europe. Until this happens, smuggling will continue to rise.