That’s what the antismoking mob have been saying (along with ‘no slippery slope’, ‘these measures will never be applied to other products’ and other lies). They claim there will be no increase in smuggled tobacco or in illegally-made tobacco.
And yet… the UK police have just busted a gang with a total of eleven tons of raw tobacco and all the necessary bits and bobs to turn it into eleven tons of counterfeit Golden Virginia, along with all the packs to put it in.
This is not someone coming back from Marbella with a few extra packs to sell to mates, nor is it some shed-based local home-producer. This is the big league. They might not be the Mafia, not quite, but they aren’t small scale producers either. The big organised crime gangs will have entire factories devoted to cigarette production by now.
Note that although this tobacco is frequently referred to as ‘fake’, it isn’t fake at all. It’s real tobacco. The fakery is in passing it off as Golden Virginia, not in the tobacco itself.
The scaremongering starts at line one –
A stash of raw tobacco worth £5million which could be mixed with potentially harmful chemicals has been uncovered at an illegal cigarette factory.
The references to ‘chemical drums’ are in fact drums of those preservatives and flavourings that are added to the legal product. Sure, this tobacco ‘could be’ mixed with rat poison or powdered asbestos – but it’s not. These counterfeiters are trying to make a good copy of the real thing. They want repeat custom, not a one-off sale where their next approach will be met with ‘No thanks, your stuff tastes like cow shit’.
All the money it’s alleged to be ‘worth’ is just what the government would have lost in their insane levels of taxation if this tobacco had hit the market. Of course, the tobacco companies would also lose a hell of a lot of money with this amount of copied product floating around, but nobody in the MSM dares to mention that.
The interesting part is that all that leaf they found isn’t actually subject to duty. It’s still leaf. The shredded stuff is subject to duty but the leaf is not. Then again, they have all those empty Golden Virginia packets and a setup that makes their intentions clear. They can be charged with intent to process that leaf into tobacco and thereby defraud the government of its protection money (note that they aren’t likely to be charged with defrauding Imperial Tobacco, who make the real thing) and well, I wouldn’t want to try to formulate their defence for them!
If it was just a warehouse full of leaf they’d have a good defence. It’s for snuff, it’s for making insect-repelling compost, it’s for making Electrofag juice, it’s for making wine…
(A thought occurs to me. Instead of just throwing away any leaves that turn mouldy in my own experiments at curing, I should be digging them into the planting beds)
Boxes full of rolling-tobacco wrappers are a dead giveaway. I don’t think they are going to be able to talk their way out of this one.
It was bound to happen. Just as the never-ending ‘war on drugs’ has given rise to illegal pot-growing installations on a grand scale and chemistry labs in basements producing unregulated experimental medication-based entertainments, this ‘war on tobacco’ has just handed the entire industry over to criminal gangs. Plain packaging will make their job so much easier.
The idiots’ next step will not be to say ‘Whoa, we have taken this much too far now’ but to ban the sale of tobacco leaf and the growing of tobacco. That’s what they did with marijuana and now there isn’t a single plant anywhere in the country. Apart from those massive hidden installations growing it by the ton, of course.
The article mentions that the tobacco leaf was ‘believed to be imported from a tobacco growing country’. They will ban the import of leaf from tobacco growing countries in response. Well, there are no legitimate tobacco companies left in the UK now that the idiot Government has driven the entire industry out of the country. Along with all the jobs associated with that industry. Along with all the income tax paid by all those workers, all the VAT on the goods they used to be able to buy, and the corporation tax and all the rest. So, the idiots will argue, there can be no legitimate reason to import the leaf.
Tobacco grows perfectly well in the UK. Outdoors. Without any fancy lighting or hydroponics. Some quiet corner of a remote farm is very likely to be sprouting a new crop as I type. They could even be within sight of a main road – under big, long polytunnels labelled ‘strawberries’ that have real strawberry plants at each end, as far in as a passing smokefree car can see. No need for imports to supply those gangs. If it grows here, north of Aberdeen, then it’ll certainly grow anywhere south of here. Maybe even further north.
What this Mail article has shown is that those ‘fake tobacco’ producers are in fact producing real tobacco. They aren’t selling dried grass clippings or trimmings from worn-out carpets. They are making counterfeit Golden Virginia but using real tobacco.
I still don’t want any. Now I smoke only pure leaf. I don’t want those additives, thanks. Yet the demand for their product will be immense. The antismokers and their idiots in government have pushed up the price of 50g of Golden Virginia to well over £15. At an estimate, these criminals can make a replica – including packaging – for no more than £2. Probably less. They could sell at £10 a pack and make a massive profit. For all those low-paid smokers, that will be the only source they can afford.
The busted gang were working on a big scale but that’s still as nothing compared to what the really serious criminal gangs could do. The gangs who can afford to pay off local authorities to turn a blind eye, while handing them info on their smaller competitors so the authorities can be seen to be doing something about ‘all those illegal cigarettes’.
Naturally, the ‘you are funding the criminals’ line appears in the article.
‘Cheap tobacco may seem like a bargain, but there are no controls over what is mixed into the product and by buying it smokers are funding organised crime gangs.’
Instead you should buy the heavily taxed product in the shops so you can fund ASH, a health service that does not want to treat you, and a government who hate you absolutely.
Is there really a difference?