Sales of illegal branded cigarettes have soared by 154% since plain packaging was introduced in Australia in December 2012.

Certain ’cheap white’ branded packs such as Manchester, which does not comply with the plain packaging legislation, are now outstripping sales of some of Australia’s legal brands, a report by international research company Roy Morgan reveals.

Manchester, the cheap white brand originally manufactured in Dubai but with no legal market in Australia, currently holds an estimated 1.3% share of the Australian tobacco market.

The report, which was shared with the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, also found that  67% of retailers thought the illicit trade had harmed their business since the implementation of plain packaging.

 “Australians are still smoking as much as before the introduction of plain packaging, but more of them are turning to the black market where they can find illicit branded packs at a fraction of the cost,” Australasian Association of Convenience Stores chief executive Jeff Rogut said.

The Scottish parliament has already expressed its intention to press ahead with plain packaging in the near future. It has also approved a Legislative Consent Motion that allows the UK government to include Scotland in any plain packaging legislation produced by Westminster; which is currently awaiting the final recommendations of the Chantler review.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) submitted its response to the Chantler Review earlier this week. Its submission, which was accompanied by a letter to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, highlighted the damage that plain packaging would inflict on small stores.