A LEADING tobacco company claims the number of illegal cigarettes being sold in Spain, via Gibraltar, has doubled in a year.

Altadis insists 30.3% of the contraband tobacco sold in Spain is coming from the Rock, compared to just 16.5% a year ago.

It comes after a study by consulting firm Ipsos estimated that 10.3% of the cigarettes bought in Spain were illegally imported, up 2% up on last year.

In Andalucia, an alarming 34% of all tobacco bought is said to be illegal and not bringing tax revenue to the central government.

While Altadis admitted Gibraltar has stepped up controls in 2017 in order to curb trafficking, they claim manufacturers are over supplying Gibraltar with cigarettes.

The surplus means many more unregulated shops have popped up on the Rock which are, in turn, selling larger quantities of cigarettes to smugglers.

The government confirmed it was to conduct more repairs on gaps in the border fence which smugglers are known to exploit.

Currently the allowance for visitors is either 200 cigarettes or 250gs of tobacco from Gibraltar into Spain per month.

A total of 1,144 denuncias have been made to the Spanish Tax Agency this year so far, with the majority of them over food shops and kiosks selling illegal produce.

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