Stat of the Month: The Big Smokescreen

400bn - The number of fake fags made in China each year

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The cigarette-smuggling trade is booming. So much so that factories in China make an estimated 400 billion counterfeit cigarettes annually - enough to supply every US smoker with an emphysema-inducing 460 packs a year. It's enough to give Philip Morris' parent company, Altria Group, palpitations. The firm has hired its own detectives to infiltrate the gangs smuggling and selling the rip-off cigarettes, and has given police forces an estimated $2m over the past eight years to try to stop profits going up in smoke.

And the problem isn't confined to the US. Just recently, the issue of cigarette smuggling was discussed in the House of Lords after it was discovered that lost excise revenues as a result of illegal imports totalled ú1.5bn in 2007-08 - no small sum.

But even without smuggling, the Government is losing out on much-needed money as UK citizens take advantage of lower prices overseas.

It's estimated that the amount of revenue lost owing to holidaying Brits stocking up on ciggies abroad is ú900m - ú600m of which comes from the EU. What a drag.

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