New plans for tougher penalties for tobacco smugglers which include quadrupling the fines imposed on persistent offenders are a step in the right direction, said the NFRN.

Chief executive Paul Baxter said: “The NFRN has repeatedly called on HMRC, the government, police and trading standards to take tougher action against persistent offenders as their actions threaten the livelihoods of responsible tobacco retailers.

“We are pleased to hear that HMRC wants to clamp down more severely on persistent and shameless smugglers, distributors and sellers of illicit tobacco as we feel strongly that there are too few prosecutions and when cases do come to court that the punishments do not fit the severity of the crime.

“As the illicit tobacco market continues to grow, irreparable damage is done to the businesses of independent retailers and the communities that they serve.

“The NFRN looks forward to contributing to the HMRC consultation and supporting its calls for tougher new civil penalties and a fourfold increase in fines.”

Just recently, the NFRN and Imperial Tobacco sent out 50,000 anti-illicit trade packs branded ‘Suspect it? Report it!’ as part of a campaign to raise awareness among retailers and their smoker customers of the multitude of threats illicit tobacco has on retailers and the government.

For more information about the consultation, download the HMRC press release here

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