Tobacco company joins EC in battle against smuggling

Benson & Hedges producer British American Tobacco has pledged to work with the European Commission to help crack down on illicit trade.

The London-based company – whose 2009 accounts show it made a £3 billion profit from group operations and paid almost £27 billion in tax – will contribute €134 million (around £113 million) over the next 20 years to help deal with the problem. In the UK, smuggled tobacco alone is draining £2 billion a year from the public purse, according to government estimates.

The deal will see “co-operation in a number of areas” and involve BAT working with law enforcement agencies in member countries, as well as European officials.

BAT’s western Europe director Jack Bowles said: “We are sending out a strong message to the criminals who counterfeit our products and evade taxes by smuggling –

their activities will not be tolerated. We are confident that, by working alongside the EC and member states, we will make a serious impact on levels of illicit trade in tobacco.”