- West Country (E)
- 3 updates
A massive trade in illegal tobacco is helping to fuel organised crime across the South West.
New research shows 1 in 5 South West smokers are happy to buy "bootleg tobacco".
The illicit activity costs the exchequer billions of pounds, but now customs officers, the police and trading standards are joining forces with Smokefree South West to tackle the problem.
More than a third of smokers in Bath and North East Somerset admit buying illegal tobacco with one in five across the west saying they've bought bootleg supplies.
The shock findings come on the day the police and revenue and customs launch a fresh crackdown on the illegal trade which is often linked to organised crime.
Bob Gaiger is from HM Revenue & Customs:
More than a third of smokers in Bath and North East Somerset admit they've bought illegal tobacco, the highest in the region.
The survey findings coincide with a new crackdown on bootleg tobacco which police say is often linked to organised crime and costs the exchequer almost two billion pounds in lost revenue each year.
Across the South West one in five smokers say they've bought illegal tobacco.