More than three-quarters (76%) of adult smokers have bought non-UK duty paid tobacco in the past year, marking an exponential increase on the previous two years, according to the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA).

The TMA’s latest anti-illicit trade survey of 12,000 smokers, conducted in April and May 2018, found that London had the highest rate of non-UK duty paid purchases (85%) and Wales had the lowest prevalence (70%).

Furthermore, more adult smokers (26%) are aware of illicit tobacco products being sold in their area, compared to 20% in 2017.

However, a slightly higher proportion of respondents (14%) who are aware of illicit tobacco have reported it – up from 12% from 2016 – and London has by far the best reporting rate (31%).

The survey also revealed that 37% of respondents agreed that the ban on small tobacco packs has made them more likely to buy untaxed tobacco, while 28% said the same about plain packaging.

Meanwhile, the proportion of smokers who buy tobacco products from local shops has declined to 64%, from 69% in 2017. The figure for supermarkets, including online delivery, has reduced by 7% to 66%. Some 7% of adult smokers buy tobacco from friends or family, according to the study.