BBC exposes tobacco crime gangs in Scotland
- 20 January 2011
- From the section Scotland
A BBC investigation has exposed the organised crime groups controlling Scotland's illegal tobacco trade.
Illegal products being sold by crime gangs were bought by a BBC Scotland undercover team, who secretly filmed the supply chain.
Half of all hand-rolled tobacco smoked in the UK is now counterfeit, as is one in every five cigarettes.
The illegal trade is estimated to cost the Treasury billions of pounds in lost taxes.
Black market tobacco products, which use the branding of famous names, do not adhere to levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide set out for legitimate products.
Products bought by the BBC team were tested and shown to have the highest levels of toxins recorded in the UK.
The results prompted one health expert to warn of a "health timebomb" waiting to explode.
The UK is the second most expensive place to smoke in the world because 80% of the price is tax.
That makes the country a prime target for the international illegal tobacco trade. Most of the product they import is counterfeit and from China.
BBC reporter Sam Poling was assaulted during the undercover investigation.
The attack happened when Ms Poling confronted market sellers following months of secret filming for the programme BBC Scotland Investigates: Smoking and the Bandits.
Ms Poling's hand was bruised and the production team's car was damaged.
Footage from the incident featured in the programme, which was broadcast on Wednesday and is available on BBC iPlayer.