A NEW survey of more than 12,000 adult smokers has revealed that 29 per cent across the South West regularly buy their cigarettes from ‘non-shop’ sources, including market stalls, car boot sales and pubs.

The survey, conducted by the Tobacco Manufacturer’s Association, showed that one in four smokers are aware of illegal, counterfeit or smuggled tobacco being sold in their area, with prices typically less than £4 for a pack of 20, undercutting legitimate sources.

Only eight per cent of these people reported the offences to the authorities, with most saying it was none of their business, and others saying they were afraid to report it in case they got into trouble.

The survey also revealed that saving money was the main motivation for people knowingly buying illegal tobacco products.

Mike Goodall, the regional manager of the Tobacco Manufacturer’s Association in the South West, said: “These results highlight the volume and widespread availability of illegal tobacco across the UK, which is causing untold damage to legitimate retail businesses. The economy is improving, but living standards have yet to catch up, therefore smokers are continuing to buy tobacco from outside the legal supply chain.

“The Government needs to provide much greater support for law enforcement agencies to help stem the flow of illegal tobacco, and provide greater reassurance to the public and retailers that reporting illegal tobacco will result in action being taken.”