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Tobacco tax increases are one of the most effective means of reducing tobacco use1 and, consequently, the tobacco industry has historically lobbied heavily against tax increases.2 With standardised packaging of cigarettes now under consideration in the UK, industry lobbying on the illicit tobacco trade has intensified.3 In November 2012, Japan Tobacco International (JTI), which has approximately a 40% share in the UK market,4 published a report, The Billion Pound Drop, on tobacco smuggling in the UK,5 which claims, inter alia, that tobacco tax increases fuel the illicit tobacco trade. Statements such as ‘the tax on a pack of premium brand cigarettes…has risen by more than £1… As a result, we have seen levels of non-UK duty paid consumption increase by almost 20% so far this year,’ litter the report. These claims are made despite evidence of the far more complex supply-side drivers of the illicit tobacco trade (including tobacco industry involvement),6 ,7 recent survey evidence showing that price was unrelated to levels of illicit tobacco use across Europe,8 and data …
Contributors Both authors contributed equally.
Funding This work is supported by grant no. R01CA160695 from the US National Cancer Institute. ABG's ongoing industry monitoring work is supported by funding from Cancer Research UK, grant no. C27260/A12294 (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org) and Smokefree South West. ABG is a member of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, a UK Centre for Public Health Excellence which is supported by funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the National Institute of Health Research, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health or the other funders.