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Black market cigarette use soars in St Albans
More than a third of the cigarettes smoked in St Albans are bought on the black market, making it the ninth worst city in the UK, new statistics have revealed.
A survey of discarded packets in the district showed that 37.9 per cent of boxes were bootlegged, smuggled or counterfeit.
This figure has soared in the past 12 months, with last year’s figures coming in at just 9.7 per cent.
Will O’Reilly, a former Scotland Yard detective chief inspector who is currently conducting research into the trade of cigarettes, said: "Just as armed robberies of the 70s and 80s made way for the drugs trade and large scale fraud in the 90s, a new crime of choice has emerged, which carries even less risk and even greater profits.
"The trade in illicit tobacco has become the primary source of revenue for some criminal gangs and terrorist groups and it has already reached epidemic proportions in some parts of the UK."
Across the East of England, the survey showed that 26.7 per cent of all packs were illegal or purchased outside of the UK.
During the survey more than 12,000 packs were collected from streets and bins in 105 cities across the UK.