A new survey has found that more than half of corner shop owners (57 per cent) are aware of smuggled/counterfeit products being sold in their area.
Alarmingly, 73 per cent of retailers believe that smuggling/cross border purchases will increase in the next 12 months. This coincides with the introduction of regulations from the EU which will ban the sale of cigarette packs of less than 20 and packs under 30g of hand rolling tobacco.
The survey by the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA) also found that almost one in four corner shop owners have considered reducing staff as a result of the effect of the illicit trade on their business - with one in eight (13 per cent) considering closing their shop due to lost sales caused by the illicit tobacco business.
Blackburn retailer Suleman Khonat, and the National Spokesman for the TRA, said: “These results are deeply concerning. The UK is awash in illegal tobacco driven by the high taxation on tobacco products which makes the UK such a magnet for tobacco smugglers. This is all very alarming for the future of small retailers who generate about a third (30 per cent) of their turnover from tobacco products.”
Illegal tobacco should be reported to the HMRC Customs hotline (0800 595 000) or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you’d like to remain anonymous.