Tobacco tax rise ‘plays into hands of smugglers’

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North West tobacco retailers have expressed disappointment that tax on tobacco will increase by two per cent above inflation following the Budget.

The Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance, which represents 26,000 shopkeepers across the UK, campaigns to raise awareness of the link between high tobacco tax and tobacco smuggling.

Suleman Khonat, the North West Spokesman of the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance and a retailer from Blackburn commented: “Every time the Government raises the tax on tobacco, it plays in to the hands of tobacco smugglers who make more money selling their illegal product here compared to anywhere else in the EU.

“With the Chancellor’s announcement, smugglers will now make even more profit, encouraging more of them to ply their illegal trade in communities across the UK, selling to customers no matter what their age. This in turn will mean lost sales for legitimate retailers like myself.”

The Chancellor announced on Wednesday that cigarettes would go up by two per cetn above inflation.

But he cut duty on a pint of beer by 1p.

It was the second year in a row that Mr Osbourne had cut beer duty

The Tobacco Retailers Alliance says the the black market in smuggled and counterfeit tobacco already causes a loss to the Treasury of almost £8 million each day.

It also claims it deprives legitimate businesses of trade.