The damaging effect of the illegal tobacco trade will be discussed by industry figures, politicians and traders today.
The round table forum will be held at the Hilton Brighton Metropole today to analyse the scale of the problem in Brighton and Hove.
In January a special investigation by The Argus found more than half a dozen city shops selling Non-UK duty paid cigarettes and tobacco (NUKDP), including counterfeit goods, to unsuspecting customers.
The trade costs HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) more than £2 billion a year in lost revenue.
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Now officers from HMRC, local businesses and tobacco firm representatives will meet to discuss how to take a stand against the trade and protect legitimate traders in Brighton and Hove.
The event, organised by Independent Retail News, will also be attended by Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown, and editor of The Argus Michael Beard.
The Argus surveyed 42 people on their knowledge of the illegal tobacco trade and found half of them were not aware NUKDP tobacco was available in the city.
But shockingly 17 people, 40% of those questioned, said they had been offered NUKDP products. Nearly all of them, 13, admitted to going ahead with the purchase.
Local businesses have described how such purchases are threatening the livelihoods of shop owners selling authentic tobacco products.
Navin Patel, of Southern Cross newsagent in Trafalgar Road, Portslade, said: “Shops are closing down because genuine traders are suffering.
“Cigarettes cost around £8 in England and only £2 abroad. When other shops are selling cheaper goods, it puts a lot of pressure on the legitimate businesses.“I will be attending the forum to see how we can help each other to make a stand and to tell how the problem of illegal tobacco is widespread in Brighton and Hove.”
Trading Standards is currently investigating the retailers identified by The Argus selling illegal tobacco products.
Our story followed raids on the Brighton Racecourse market last year, where 11 stalls were either closed down or abandoned as HMRC and Trading Standards officers seized 1,500 pouches of counterfeit tobacco worth £23,000.
Mark Yexley, of Japan Tobacco International (JTI), said: “JTI is very pleased to be attending the IRN forum in Brighton as ‘cheap illegal tobacco’ is an increasing issue for honest, hardworking and reputable shopkeepers in Brighton.