Tobacco smuggling is causing around 4,000 premature deaths a year in Britain, which is four times the number of deaths caused by the use of all smuggled illegal drugs put together, claims experts.
According to the British Medical Journal, UK government is not doing enough to tackle the problem, say the experts.
Professor Robert West from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre and team insist that more smokers would quit if cigarettes cost more, but at around half the price, smuggled tobacco is keeping the prices down, reports the British Medical Journal.
Around 21percent of all tobacco smoked in the UK is smuggled into the country. If there were no smuggling, the price of legal tobacco would increase by around 12percent. According to the researchers, this would lead to 5-8percent of smokers kicking the habit, saving at least 4000 lives a year.
The boffins said that a reduction in tobacco smuggling would help reduce health inequalities because low-income smokers are more likely to use smuggled tobacco and they are also more likely to quit because of price increases.
The experts urge the UK Government to set out comprehensive measures and clear targets for the UK Border Agency to control the illegal tobacco, and for the government to support negotiations, currently underway, for a strong international treaty to tackle smuggling.