A recent Scotland-wide study into the trade of illegal tobacco has found evidence in Bo’ness of an active trade in illicit tobacco and cigarettes.
A ‘‘test purchase’’ exercise, whereby a team of trained ‘‘buyers’’ use intelligence gained locally to identify locations in which illegal tobacco is likely to be available was conducted by former Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector Will O’Reilly.
In a shop in Bo’ness, a female shopkeeper sold the test purchaser four packs of Jin Ling brand cigarettes for £3.50 per pack. Originally, she wanted to sell them by the carton and also stated that she had two different well-known international brands.
A three-day operation led to purchases of 44 packs of illicit cigarettes and two 50g quantities of loose tobacco in nine separate transactions. The cheapest pack of illicit cigarettes cost £3.50.
Will O’Reilly said: “We were able to purchase illicit tobacco in Bo’ness and came to the conclusion that there needs to be more done to combat the issue throughout Scotland.
“We know organised crime is behind the trade in illicit tobacco. Criminals are turning from harder crimes to the illicit trade in tobacco products due to higher profit margins and fewer risks.
‘‘We would urge people to be vigilant and to report any information relating to the sale of illicit tobacco, as there is a lack of information coming in from the public.”