Tackling tobacco cheats

Illicit trade costs over £1bn in lost tax

ILLICIT tobacco continues to be a blight on the category and it will take collaboration from producers, retailers and government to effectively tackle the problem.

That’s the view of Mark Yexley, head of communications at JTI, who has renewed calls for retailers to play their part in catching tobacco criminals. Yexley said that illicit tobacco continues to be a widespread issue in the UK, accounting for a sizeable proportion of the total tobacco trade in the UK.

“The government estimates that illegal tobacco makes up around 9% of the cigarette market and 32% of the hand rolling market in the UK.

“Illegal trade caused £1.8bn of lost tax revenue in 2017/18, with a total revenue loss of £45.2bn since 2001,” he said.

Yexley suggested any retailers with knowledge of illicit tobacco activity in their area make use of HMRC’s fraud hotline, call Trading Standards, or the independent charity Crimestoppers.

“Key to tackling the issue of illicit tobacco is the ability to work together; from the local authorities and police, to the manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers, right down to customers.

“Co-operation from all those involved in fighting illicit trade helps us be more effective in controlling it, both online and in stores.”