Nearly one in six smokers who buy 10-packs or small rolling tobacco packs will turn to black market or duty free tobacco if Brussels bans the products as promised in last week’s EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

That is on top of the 13% of the cigarette trade already controlled by smugglers, according to the latest ‘tax gaps’ estimate from HM Customs and Excise (see below).

Exclusive RN consumer polling shows UK retailers will lose tobacco revenues, as only 65.1% of buyers of smaller packs will trade up to bigger packs, while 6.9% say they will give up altogether, and 3.3% will take up electronic cigarettes. Nearly 9% said they would smoke less.

A sample of 10 RN readers polled 547 customers at 11 stores who buy 10-packs and 12.5g RYO pouches to produce the findings.

Londis Weymouth manager David Hiscutt, who helped compile the data, said: “Our figures seem to suggest that people will not be bullied.

“The ban may stop young people starting because they cannot afford to, if indeed that is what the legislation is aimed at doing, but it seems like it would encourage the majority of smokers to smoke more.”