MP to tackle illegal cig sales

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer
Sherwood MP Mark Spencer

An MP has vowed to stub out the illegal tobacco trade in Sherwood.

Mark Spencer was presented with evidence of illegal tobacco purchased from a variety of locations, including convenience stores and off-licences across Sherwood during February and March.

Mr Spencer, Conservative MP for Sherwood, said: “You wouldn’t have thought this kind of illegal trading was so extensive in Sherwood, but I’ve seen evidence and I’m committed to helping and pushing the Government to help stamp it out.

“Not only does it affect our health, but we can’t be sure what is actually in these products as they are not checked or tested, and are often sold to children too.

“It also costs the taxpayer money, because the buyers don’t pay tax on the products.

“That means that through these crimes, the rest of us lose out on the funding for services and support we need for in other areas.”

The evidence obtained by global tobacco company JTI – which owns brands including Camel, Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges – through a series of test purchases was presented to Mr Spencer.

All of the tobacco collected was non-UK duty paid, which can include products which are counterfeit versions of genuine tobacco brands and illicit whites – tobacco products manufactured specifically to be smuggled.

Mark Yexley, of JTI, said “The impact of the illicit trade in tobacco is far reaching and members of the public, retailers, suppliers and the Government all have a role to play to combat the issue.

“Criminals who deal in illegal tobacco will sell to all-comers, including children.

“JTI fully supports any efforts to rid our streets of illegal tobacco and stop criminals infiltrating our communities.

“Law enforcement agencies have identified links between tobacco smuggling and globalised crime.

“The person in the street who sells illegal cigarettes could be the front for a criminal supply chain.

“The £5 spent by a smoker on illegal cigarettes in Sherwood today can potentially fund major global criminals and terrorist organisations tomorrow.”

The evidence gathered can be used to secure convictions with penalties of up to a seven years’ imprisonment.