The number of smuggled cigarettes being smoked in the UK leapt by almost 70 per cent in 2012, according to a study by KPMG.

It contradicts a recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health which claimed the illicit tobacco trade was actually falling – a statement which is contested by the Tobacco Manufacturers Association.

The latest research, carried out on behalf of Philip Morris International, highlighted the dangers posed by the illegal tobacco trade at a time when the Government is considering whether to make it law for all tobacco to be sold in plain, standardised packs.

Critics of the proposals say that there is no evidence plain packaging would reduce smoking levels and that if introduced, it would act as a ‘step-by-step guide’ to counterfeiters in how to manufacture illegal, non-duty paid products.