Smuggling will be easier

I WRITE in response to your article ‘Health chief backs plain cigarette packaging’ published on November 29.

Since 2011 I have been conducting research in order to gain intelligence and understanding of the illicit trade in cigarettes across the United Kingdom. It is very clear to me that poorly thought through; unproven regulation will fuel the illegal market, making the situation worse rather than better.

Everyone now agrees the illicit market is growing. In the UK statistics from HM Revenue & Customs, ‘Measuring Tax Gaps – 2013’ were published on 11th October 2013. HMRC statistics estimate that 500 million more cigarettes were smuggled into the UK in 2012-13 than in 2011-12, and 300 more tonnes of hand rolling tobacco. The potential cost to the Government is estimated at almost £3bn, which is £500 million more than last year.

In Australia a KPMG study, ‘Illicit Tobacco in Australia’ published on November 4, 2013 has shown that consumption of tobacco has not decreased since plain packaging took effect in December 2012. It also found that Australia’s illegal tobacco market has risen to around 13% since the introduction of plain packaging just under a year ago. This was the first time since 2009 that consumption did not decline year over year with more and more smokers turning to the illicit trade and to branded illegal products.

You can put all the security features you like on legal packs. But, if at the same time we cut criminals’ costs by giving them just one pack design to copy rather than 101, then its criminals that win. They will plough that money into increasingly sophisticated and successful smuggling operations, especially when we are also cutting border controls. Criminals will also continue to profit from successfully targeting young people, the very group that plain packaging is supposed to be protecting.

Illicit tobacco is growing in the UK and Australia, let’s not make it even easier for smugglers – evidence I hope Sir Cyril Chantler will take into account in his review.

Will O’Reilly

Former Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector.

A lonely place with Asperger’s

People with Asperger’s Syndrome are different, and people pick up on it very quickly, especially bullies.

Life for someone with Asperger’s Syndrome and any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is hard, very hard.

We don’t need pity, or charity, but we do need understanding and to be treated like human beings.

I have finally come to a place where I am comfortable with who I am, but it took 60 years of inner hell to get to this place.

My point is, even though I tend to take a light-hearted approach with my Asperger’s Syndrome, life for people with an (ASD) is cruel. We know we are different because people make it very clear to us that we are different. Sometimes we are recognised or even honoured for our tenacious approach to a particular subject.

Yet even those with Asperger’s Syndrome who have been recognised as brilliant still do not live the fast lane of social acceptance and inclusion.

Reality is quite the opposite.

Successful people with Asperger’s Syndrome may be invited to the party and receive glorious praise about their achievement, but when the dust settles, where are their friends?

Where are the people who want to know who they are, rather than what they have achieved?

Where are the social invites because people enjoy their company? I can guarantee you, there aren’t any. They are still alone and isolated.

Perhaps if I looked disabled they might be more understanding. But people rarely see me as disabled because I do not look disabled.

I often hear the snide remarks and condemning looks of “there is nothing wrong with him” or “he looks okay to me”or “he is just lazy”.

The reality is far from it.

Mr N Preston, an “Aspie”