Dozens of people shared ideas on how to tackle the illegal cigarette and tobacco trade.
Industry figures, Argus reporter Ben Leo and HMRC representatives met at the Hilton Brighton Metropole last Friday to discuss the illicit market.
The forum, also attended by MP for Brighton Kemptown Simon Kirby, saw suggestions for HMRC to plough more money into advertising campaigns highlighting the cause and effect of fake tobacco and cigarettes.
The event was held following this newspaper’s Don’t Be Tempted campaign, which highlighted the damaging effect fake tobacco has on local traders, the economy and health.
Currently the Government estimates it loses £2.2 billion a year though the trade.
Brighton trader Navin Patel, of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, expressed concern about Government proposals on plain packaging.
He said: “It is going to make the retailers’ life miserable and one of living hell. We feel the respective authorities should act quickly on these issues and try and contain the worsening situation.
“I’m requesting all members to write to their MPs showing their concerns about the illegal tobacco trade, which is going to flourish even more if the introduction of plain packaging goes ahead as planned, coupled with other EU tobacco directives.”
Mark Yexley, of Japan Tobacco International (JTI), said: “The forum was a great platform to highlight the impact on the community and that the selling and buying of cheap illegal cigarettes and tobacco is not a victimless crime.
“It is illegal and criminals need to be stopped. JTI is proud to be taking a lead on this issue.”