It seems that it's getting worse and this is before the nannying fussbuckets make it even easier for the smugglers by introducing plain packaging for fags:
The survey in Birmingham by MS Intelligence, a Swiss-based brand protection company, found that 30.9 per cent of packets were either bogus or purchased abroad.
A similar study conducted last year found the proportion was only 14.1 per cent - indicating that the number of illicit cigarettes smoked in Britain's second-largest city has more than doubled in 12 months.
Even accounting for the limitations of this study, these figures demonstrate that there is a point at which sticking the price up every year stops working. And we have crossed that point - the criminals are switching from high risk heroin ans cocaine to low risk booze and fags:
Profit margins are said to be just as high because of the scale of the operation, but detection rates are lower and punishment less severe.
Recently, heroin and cigarettes have been smuggled together.
'Bring a container of cigarettes into this country and you're talking a £1.5 million profit,' said Mr O'Reilly. 'Organised crime is all over it.
'After a number of years in decline, there has been a sharp rise in illicit cigarettes.
'That's partly down to the economy - people can't afford the real product - and it is easier for counterfeiters to copy the packets.
'Plans for plain packaging are simply playing into the hands of organised criminals and counterfeiters because it will be so much easier to make copies.'
Perhaps we need to change our attitude to smoking. Rather than the abstain or nothing approach coupled with ever more draconian price and distribution controls, we should maybe consider treating adults like, well, grown ups. Setting the facts out before them, providing support for quitters and encouraging less harmful smoking options such as water pipes and e-cigarettes.
Not going to happen though is it! The fussbuckets just plan to shout louder, ban more and control more.