A national organisation that supports shopkeepers who sell tobacco products today urged its 26,000 members to support the Evening Post’s campaign.
The Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance is a coalition of thousands of independent shopkeepers including hundreds of corner shops and off-licences in Lancashire.
It says dodgy tobacco dealers are posing a grave threat to legitimate shopkeepers.
The Don’t Let them Make A Packet proved the county’s criminal underworld is profiting from smuggling illicit cigarettes and tobacco and selling them on the black market, often to the most vulnerable and impressionable in our communities. Debbie Corris, national spokesman for the TRA, said: “The Lancashire Evening Post’s ground-breaking campaign is terrific because it brings together for the first time a number of organisations, including retailers, that are vital in addressing the scourge of illegal tobacco effectively.
“As independent shopkeepers, we know only too well that there is a great deal of illegal tobacco out there and the latest official figures show that it’s on the increase.
“The implications cannot be underestimated – these lost sales, and the associated footfall, can be the difference between a community shop surviving or going under.
“I wish the campaign well and I know our members, as responsible retailers, are keen to support it, and I would urge them and readers to sign the Government e-petition before it closes on March 19.”
Since 1983 the TRA has represented the rights of legitimate retailers to sell tobacco products in a legal and responsible way.
The e-petition calls on the Government to tighten up the penalties tobacco smugglers face, to recognise the grave threat it poses to communities in terms of crime and undermining health agencies’ efforts to get smokers to quit, and asks politicians to pledge to tackle the discrepancies between the punishments for comparatively similar drugs cases.
If 10,000 signatures are obtained, the Government has to provide a response.
Find the petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/43213.