The threat posed by illicit tobacco is on the rise, and experts say tobacco manufacturers are partly to blame.

An HMRC report into tax gaps revealed that illicit tobacco now deprives the Government of £2.5bn each year – a 9% increase year on year. Coupled with illicit alcohol sales, of every £10 in lost tax, £1.18 is due to illicit tobacco and alcohol.

It was released at the same time as a report by the University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group suggested that tobacco manufacturers themselves continue to be involved in direct tobacco smuggling and in oversupplying markets with low tobacco taxes with products that end up being smuggled elsewhere. 

The claims come despite several tobacco manufacturers funding efforts to stamp out the illicit trade in the UK. The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association did not respond to requests to comment.

Read more: New HMRC stats show illicit tobacco is on the rise