Monthly Archives: April 2009

Developing new relationships with agencies that play a role in tackling tobacco smuggling

UKBA and HMRC will strengthen their existing partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, as well as developing new relationships with agencies that play a role in tackling tobacco smuggling. These include:
• UK Police Forces – The close links already in place with UK Police Forces and Special Branch in particular, will be fully exploited and developed to further improve information flow at the border and identify new ways of working together to tackle tobacco smuggling.
The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between UKBA and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) clearly sets out how the two groups will work together. UKBA representatives on ACPO will play a key role in championing the tobacco agenda with our
Police partners.
• Maritime and Coastguard Agency – UKBA will engage with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to identify areas of mutual interest and develop action plans. Smuggling tobacco goods by sea using commercial vessels, fishing boats and pleasure craft has been identified as a clear threat. MCA officers, especially Coastguard officers, are frequent and regular attendees at coastal locations and are well placed to gather information in this challenging environment. The UK Border Force Maritime Branch, with its fleet of five Cutters, frequently works with MCA officers and this relationship will be strengthened through a series of liaison visits, awareness sessions and joint exercises.
• Local authorities – Recognising the expertise that trading standards officers have developed in dealing with counterfeit goods at local level, we will enhance our working arrangements with local authorities to tackle the availability of counterfeit tobacco within communities.

Research collaboration to produce less harmful tobacco products

The tobacco industry is subject to policies that uniquely restrict how it conducts its R&D activities. This is despite the fact that it is a legitimate business with a product that is consumed by more than a billion people globally – the cigarette. It has long been established that smoking poses serious risks to health.
British American Tobacco (BAT) spends millions trying to understand the mechanism by which tobacco causes harm and how we might modify our products to reduce harm. The science involved is challenging and spans many disciplines, and we want to bring the best minds to bear on the challenge of reducing tobacco-related harm. However, while some of our detractors also expect, and indeed demand, that we do reduce tobacco-related harm, they have made it very difficult for us to do so due to policies restricting tobacco industry funding of research.
This February, John Denham, UK Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, called for an increase in private investment in research. Yet the policies of many research institutes and funding bodies in the UK, and some other countries, mean that we are prohibited from funding or working with many of the scientists that we would like to. The funding policies of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), for example, one of the most powerful research charities in the country, makes it impossible for researchers to collaborate with us. Any researcher who accepts funding from a tobacco company has to give up any chance of getting CRUK funding in the future and their entire faculty and institution may also lose any chance of funding.
While we can and do collaborate and fund research projects, most of these funds leave the country. But we are a UK company, based in the UK. We know that many of the world’s leading scientists are also based here, and we want to work with them. But we have been restricted in our activities to the extent that many UK researchers are today unaware that we do any research, let alone the range of our research activities, including investigating the science of tobacco harm reduction.

Workgroup proposes smoking ban

Enjoy that cigarette on Low Steps now, as campus smoking may soon be more tightly regulated.

Online counselling to be mandatory for underaged smokers

The National Health Surveillance Survey 2007 showed that 13.6 per cent of Singapore residents aged 18 to 69 smoked daily, compared to 12.6 per cent in 2004.

Smoking and high blood pressure each account for 1 in 5 deaths in US adults

A comprehensive assessment of the risk factors for preventable deaths in the United States has found that smoking and high blood pressure are responsible for the greatest number of preventable deaths – each accounting for around 1 in 5 deaths in US adults. The study, published in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine this week, finds that other dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors also cause a substantial number of deaths in the United States.

Special vacuum cleaners set to smoke out cigarette ends

IT has been one of the most obvious drawbacks of Scotland’s smoking ban – city centre streets riddled with cigarette ends.

Now council chiefs have declared war on fag ends with the help of a specialist new vacuum cleaner to sweep them up more effectively.

Making the most of technology and IT to support the tobacco strategy

UKBA has a wide range of tools available to help detect illicit goods at the border, including those detailed below which will be used to support the tobacco strategy.
X-ray scanning • A program of replacement and upgrading of mobile freight x-ray scanning
equipment equipment will enhance UKBA capability with new state of the art equipment.
Two new mobile freight scanners will be operational by April 2009 to replace
older units. A program of redeployment of mobile scanner units will seek to
make best use of this method of screening large volumes of freight and
container traffic.
• New equipment, capable of x-raying whole pallets of goods, is being introduced.
This will enable quicker, detailed screening of freight loads to identify possible
tobacco concealments.
• A program of replacing old static x-ray equipment at some airports with new
high-definition x-ray equipment to detect tobacco products in passengers’
baggage will add to the armoury of equipment available to Border
Force officers.
Automatic Number Plate • A review of the ANPR capability of UKBA, commencing in November 2008,
will lead to a program of equipment upgrades and system enhancement
Recognition during 2009.

The integrated HMRC–UKBA response

Operational delivery of the tobacco strategy is spread across a number of different parts of HM Revenue & Customs and the UK Border Agency, which collectively provides a comprehensive and integrated response to the threats from tobacco smuggling. The following sections illustrate
how HMRC and UKBA will work together to deliver the strategy.
Refreshed border detection strategy
The creation of the UK Border Agency has established a new 25,000 strong force to protect
the border. Its officers work at all principal points of entry into the UK and in many locations
overseas. This presents clear opportunities to capitalise on the increased capabilities the new
Agency brings to support the fight against the illicit tobacco trade. UKBA will play a pivotal role
in the strategy through the disruption of the illicit supply chain at the UK border.
UKBA has stretching targets for the disruption of tobacco smuggling into the UK, which are
set out in the UKBA/HMRC Partnership Agreement (see Annex 1). In order to achieve this
alongside its other key priorities, UKBA is already trialling closer integration at 5 key “flagship”
sites at Edinburgh, Teesport, Harwich, Coquelles and Gatwick Airport, where immigration and
customs powers have been “cross-conferred” and officers from former HMRC Detection and the
Border and Immigration Agency are working closely together in joint teams. Already, over 500
immigration officers have been trained and given customs powers, enabling them to question
travellers about tobacco products. The closer working underway is already bringing results.
As this integration develops we expect to see an increase in the effectiveness of our tobacco
disruption activity at the border.
Case Study 1: UKBA Flagship Site
A male passenger arriving into Gatwick from Tripoli was referred by the Immigration officer
at the primary line for further examination as his route and reason for travel were considered
suspicious. Examination of his baggage resulted in the seizure of just under 10,000 cigarettes
and 11 Kilos of prohibited meat products.
Case Study 2: UKBA Flagship Site
A single male arriving into Gatwick from Vilnius came to the attention of the Immigration
officer at the primary checkpoint when his name appeared on a watchlist. He was referred
for further examination where a check on his baggage produced just 1200 cigarettes. The
Immigration officer then identified another bag the man had been carrying when he arrived.
This bag produced a further 10,800 cigarettes. As a regular traveller who has had cigarettes
seized before he was arrested and interviewed. A total of 12,000 cigarettes were seized. The
case is ongoing.

New and emerging threats

Product threats
3.1 Prior to the launch of the Tackling Tobacco Smuggling strategy in 2000, the illicit cigarette market was predominantly made up of genuine cigarettes that were manufactured in the UK, exported, then smuggled back to the UK. Since then, and in part as a result of the strategy, the brand mix found on the UK illicit cigarette market has been progressively diversifying. Initially, counterfeit cigarettes began to represent a rapidly growing share of the illicit market and, more recently, brands not sold on the legitimate UK market, in particular so called “cheap white” brands made by small independent tobacco companies are representing a growing share of cigarette seizures.
3.2 Analysis of our large tobacco seizures provides an indication of changes in smuggling patterns.
The following trends have been identified from our analysis of these large seizures which, in
2007/08, represented approximately 55% by volume of all cigarette seizures and 52% of all
HRT seizures.
3.3 The following table illustrates the breakdown of all large seizures, into genuine and counterfeit
UK brands, and non-UK brands.