I am one of 70,000 shopkeepers who are having their businesses crippled by this illegal trade. Smuggled tobacco accounts for nearly 75 per cent of offences detected by HM Customs & Excise.
The Chancellor's decision to put 15p on a packet of 20 cigarettes in the Budget has hardly helped matters, with tobacco tax differentials between the UK and the Continent widened even further. A packet of 20 cigarettes now costs pounds 3.08 compared with pounds 1.97 in France. Smugglers will be raising a glass to Kenneth Clarke for their Christmas bonus, while local shopkeepers will face a less than prosperous New Year.