Ukrainian cigarette smuggler caught

An Ukrainian man has been caught smuggling more than 700 cartons of cigarettes.The 27-year-old was stopped in a routine road check near Villach in the southern Austrian province of Carinthia yesterday (Thurs). Traffic police officers discovered 735 cartons containing hundreds of thousands of cigarettes in the boot of his car and on the vehicle’s back seat.”He was trying to smuggle so many illegal cigarettes, it was apparently impossible to hide them properly,” one police officer said.The man, who was put in custody, refused to reveal where he planned to transport the cigarettes and whether he had been assigned by someone to smuggle them into the European Union (EU).Only last November, police found 54,000 cigarettes probably meant for illegal resale in Austria or neighbouring Italy in a Ukrainian man’s car registered in Slovakia. The suspect, who was put into detention, claimed he was working for the Ukrainian customs authority.People’s Party (ÖVP) Financial Issues State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said 46.4 million illegal cigarettes were confiscated in Austria in 2009, up by one million year on year.The Austrian government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of smuggled tobacco products last year which warns smokers they would be “puffing rat poison” if they smoke cigarettes shipped into the country illegally.More than four in 10 Austrian women and nearly three out of 10 men are smokers. The Austrian smokers’ daily average dose is 18 cigarettes, while the EU average is 14 cigarettes per day.