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Published:  23 July, 2008

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has criticised Government proposals to combat fraud in the spirits industry by making producers put duty paid strip stamps across bottle tops. Hugh Morison, SWA chief executive, said: The spirits industry has experience of strip stamps and we can state with first-hand knowledge that they just do not work. In Poland, 80% of the market is contraband, where - despite the use of strip stamps - whisky is either smuggled in or sold with a forged stamp on top,' he said. The US, Germany, Greece and Norway have withdrawn or pulled back from using them because they are deemed ineffective. Morison also claims that one stamp per bottle costs 5.48 each and the spirits industry sells 328 million bottles a year. They will cost legitimate industry millions while doing little to alleviate the problem,' he said. The Gin & Vodka Association (GVA) has met Government minister Paul Boateng to express its disquiet at the proposal. Association director general Edwin Atkinson said: There are serious doubts whether strip stamps are justified. They just make people feel that something is being done. We are concerned that some small UK companies will be severely hit.' The GVA knows of one counterfeit strip stamp in the US that was even better than the Government's.