THE number of illicit cigarettes on the black market in Sheffield has soared, according to a survey.
Researchers collected empty cigarette packets across the city and found the number of illegal cigarettes had gone up from 7.8 per cent three months earlier to 21.7 per cent.
That means over a fifth of all packets found were either fake, or from other countries and the tax had not been paid on them.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs estimates as much as half of UK hand-rolled tobacco is sourced on the black market.
It is estimated up to £3.1 billion is lost in tax revenue each year because of illegal tobacco sales.
The Government is currently consulting on plans to put all cigarettes in plain packaging.
Will O’Reilly, a former detective chief inspector who carries out research for cigarette firm Philip Morris International, said: “After a number of years in decline, there has been a sharp rise in illicit cigarettes.
“That’s partly down to the economy – people can’t afford the real product – and it is easier for counterfeiters to copy the packets.”