Illegal tobacco sales harming Brighton and Hove economy

The Argus: Illegal tobacco sales harming Brighton and Hove economy Illegal tobacco sales harming Brighton and Hove economy

llegal tobacco is threatening the livelihoods of law-abiding city shop owners selling authentic products.

Shop owners in Brighton and Hove have told how rival retailers and individuals selling Non-UK duty paid tobacco (NUKDP) for a fraction of the cost is harming businesses and the city’s economy.

NUKDP products include counterfeit or fake tobacco, sometimes produced in unregulated and unsafe environments, and contraband goods that have been smuggled into the country under the radar of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).


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Shop owner Navin Patel, of Southern Cross newsagent in Trafalgar Road, Portslade, said shops were closing down because genuine traders were suffering.He added: “People don’t realise the affect it has on us retailers who are trying to make an honest living.

“Cigarettes in England cost £8 or so a packet. They are up to £2 abroad. People are targeting the country because of the high taxes.

“I’m losing out to firms who choose to sell illegal stuff and it hits us in the pocket.”

John Hannah, of Smokemart in London Road, Brighton, said “plenty” of people visit his shop asking for illegal products.

He said: “They ask for knock-off goods at cheaper prices and get frustrated when we say we don’t have them.

“I would say up to 50% of our tobacco and cigarette sales have gone over the course of a few years simply because so many people are now selling fake or smuggled products. It’s killing us and the people who smoke the stuff too.”

UK taxes on tobacco are among the highest in the world, leading many smokers to seek out cheaper alternatives from abroad or from the black market.

At the start of October last year a 12.5g pack of tobacco cost about £4 in the UK. In Belgium a pouch four times bigger cost £3.40.

HMRC estimates over the past 13 years up to £51.9 billion has been lost in tax revenue.

Mark Yexley, of Japan Tobacco International, said: “Illegal tobacco products that are peddled within communities pose a risk to the future existence of the hard working convenience store owner and anyone who buys counterfeit cigarettes may be contributing to the decline of the high street.”

Last week this newspaper handed Brighton Trading Standards more than half a dozen examples of illegal tobacco products bought in city shops following a special investigation into the trade.

A spokeswoman from the council said it was investigating.

Comments (9)

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7:39am Fri 31 Jan 14

hyram77 says...

If small shops are folding due to poor cigarette sales I would suggest shutting up shop now. If that much reliance is placed on one declining product to be profitable then that business is in trouble! These shop keepers seem to be aware of where these fake cigarettes are being sold so just notify trading standards. It's probably the same bunch of misfits selling counterfeit alcohol!
If small shops are folding due to poor cigarette sales I would suggest shutting up shop now. If that much reliance is placed on one declining product to be profitable then that business is in trouble! These shop keepers seem to be aware of where these fake cigarettes are being sold so just notify trading standards. It's probably the same bunch of misfits selling counterfeit alcohol! hyram77

8:37am Fri 31 Jan 14

kopite_rob says...

These blackmarket dealers in tobacco and alcohol are avoiding tax and duty, dealing in illegal and potentially lethal products and by way creating antisocial behaviour which further drains health and poilcing costs.
If a traders caught selling at the very least remove their license, fine them or send them to prison.
Why is that so hard to do?
These blackmarket dealers in tobacco and alcohol are avoiding tax and duty, dealing in illegal and potentially lethal products and by way creating antisocial behaviour which further drains health and poilcing costs. If a traders caught selling at the very least remove their license, fine them or send them to prison. Why is that so hard to do? kopite_rob

8:38am Fri 31 Jan 14

john5001 says...

most small shops in Worthing and brighton sell cheap backy and alcohol and a few sell drugs. if they get caught , they plead poverty in court and get let off and told not to do it again. its a joke not even the tax man dose anything
most small shops in Worthing and brighton sell cheap backy and alcohol and a few sell drugs. if they get caught , they plead poverty in court and get let off and told not to do it again. its a joke not even the tax man dose anything john5001

8:47am Fri 31 Jan 14

BURIRAM says...

Plenty of shops in Worthing in the queens street area selling cheap cigarettes
Plenty of shops in Worthing in the queens street area selling cheap cigarettes BURIRAM

12:32pm Fri 31 Jan 14

wippasnapper says...

O’ my god do small shops base there profits on tobacco sales NO of cores they dote but if they do then there only option is to close up shop because as much as there are illegal tobacco sales there are also a lot of people stopping smoking and dared the day it is illegal to sell tobacco from any shop as it would close every small shop over night.
O’ my god do small shops base there profits on tobacco sales NO of cores they dote but if they do then there only option is to close up shop because as much as there are illegal tobacco sales there are also a lot of people stopping smoking and dared the day it is illegal to sell tobacco from any shop as it would close every small shop over night. wippasnapper

12:55pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Cave Johnson says...

So by the same token would they moan if more people gave up smoking?
So by the same token would they moan if more people gave up smoking? Cave Johnson

2:08pm Fri 31 Jan 14

thelieshurts says...

This subject as been going on for years, I think now the people making these counterfeit products are big organizations, before it was individuals trying to make a few quid, just popping across the channel.
What they want to worry about is if newspapers don't sell ie: argus where people are reading on line.
Just reminds me must go to Belgium soon, went last September nearly run out, saved about 2 or 300 pounds plus got for free a big chocolate bar, hand full of lighters, a can of soft drink or a beer.
The price to get there, cost of 2 English pounces of tobacco. Nice day out as well. At the end of day it's about saving money
This subject as been going on for years, I think now the people making these counterfeit products are big organizations, before it was individuals trying to make a few quid, just popping across the channel. What they want to worry about is if newspapers don't sell ie: argus where people are reading on line. Just reminds me must go to Belgium soon, went last September nearly run out, saved about 2 or 300 pounds plus got for free a big chocolate bar, hand full of lighters, a can of soft drink or a beer. The price to get there, cost of 2 English pounces of tobacco. Nice day out as well. At the end of day it's about saving money thelieshurts

6:55pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Larry the Lamb says...

Why isit so difficult for the police to rout these illegal sellers out. On the other hand the duty on these is far too steep. The high duty makes it a prime product to ship in and sell illegally. Don't know what the answer is but it's been going on for a good few hundred years in Sussex. There was even someone shot in Worthing in 1800 and something trying to avoid the revenue men.
Why isit so difficult for the police to rout these illegal sellers out. On the other hand the duty on these is far too steep. The high duty makes it a prime product to ship in and sell illegally. Don't know what the answer is but it's been going on for a good few hundred years in Sussex. There was even someone shot in Worthing in 1800 and something trying to avoid the revenue men. Larry the Lamb

3:29pm Sat 1 Feb 14

Take it Personally says...

"UK taxes on tobacco are among the highest in the world, leading many smokers to seek out cheaper alternatives from abroad or from the black market." and "HMRC estimates over the past 13 years up to £51.9 billion has been lost in tax revenue."

hmmm doesn't take an expert to realise who is to blame... lower the tax on fags. The strategy is clearly not working and it's knock on effect is damaging business.
"UK taxes on tobacco are among the highest in the world, leading many smokers to seek out cheaper alternatives from abroad or from the black market." and "HMRC estimates over the past 13 years up to £51.9 billion has been lost in tax revenue." hmmm doesn't take an expert to realise who is to blame... lower the tax on fags. The strategy is clearly not working and it's knock on effect is damaging business. Take it Personally

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