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Stronger powers to combat illicit tobacco welcomed

Posted on Friday 28th July 2023
TS Seizure July 2023_2. NR

Officers at Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service have welcomed changes in the law which will see higher fines for those selling illicit tobacco.

The new sanctions introduced this month (July) mean that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can enforce penalties of up to £10,000 for those businesses and individuals selling illicit tobacco.  Depending on the severity of the breach, rule-breaking businesses could also have their license revoked as well as having their tobacco products seized.

The new powers build on the successful work of Operation CeCe, a joint initiative between HMRC and National Trading Standards to tackle the illicit tobacco trade, which has removed 27 million illicit cigarettes and 7,500kg of hand rolling tobacco from sale in its first two years.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said:

“Taking illegal tobacco off the streets remains a priority for our Trading Standards service and we welcome any changes in the law to help us do this.

“The availability and sale of illicit tobacco in Staffordshire not only damages local communities and affects genuine businesses but it also helps fund organised criminal gangs.  It’s something we’re working hard with our partners to tackle and the stronger powers and increased fines for anyone selling such items should send out a very clear message that the activity will not be tolerated.”

Trade in illicit tobacco costs the exchequer over £2 billion in lost tax revenue each year. It also damages legitimate businesses, undermines public health and facilitates the supply of tobacco to young people.

Kate Pike, Lead Officer for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said:

“Trading Standards Officers across the country work with colleagues in Public Health to reduce the harm from smoking and with enforcement partners to disrupt criminality in our communities.

“We welcome this addition to our toolkit of measures to tackle illegal tobacco, ensuring that those who seek to profit from supplying these products face substantial penalties for doing so, and their ability to continue to trade is severely impacted”.

People can read more about the new sanctions here And anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco or vapes in Staffordshire can call the Fight the Fakes hotline on 01785330356.

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