Tobacco smuggling threatens shops

A fifth consider closing down due to lost sales

Over a fifth of corner shopkeepers have considered closing down due to sales revenue lost to tobacco smuggling, a new study warns.

A survey of 890 corner shop owners found that in addition to the 21% who are considering shutting their, another 27% said they have had to reduce staff because of the costly effects of tobacco smuggling.

Some 35% told surveyors the Tobacco Alliance they are “aware” of counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco being sold in their area, and 8% said they know that smuggled tobacco is being sold in shops.

A further 20% have themselves seen the tobacco being sold in pubs, clubs and car boot sales.

“These findings are extremely disturbing and demonstrate how much the comparatively new problem of fake tobacco products is affecting our society,” said Audrey Wales, spokesperson for the Tobacco Alliance.

“The livelihoods of independent shopkeepers like me all over the UK are already under threat because of the effects of tobacco smuggling on our sales. The ready availability of counterfeit will only add to these problems.”

Respondents overwhelmingly agreed, 74%, that the best way to combat the burgeoning illegal trade is for the government to reduce or freeze taxes.

“This would bring tax levels more in line with the EU, eradicating the huge price difference between tobacco here and that in mainland Europe, and so remove the incentive for smugglers to carry out their crime in the UK,” Wales said.

Nine out of 10 independent retailers in the study said they do not think the government is doing enough to stop the smuggling.

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