A new cross-party group of Peers and MPs is being formed to combat the issues and drivers the illicit trade, including tobacco and alcohol.
Led by founder and Conservative MP Matthew Offord, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has promised to launch enquiries and provide recommendations to help governments, law enforcement agencies, companies and consumers to tackle the illicit trade.
Describing why he chose to found the group, Offord said: “I’ve been out in my own constituency and seen first-hand the impact that counterfeit audio visual and smuggled tobacco is having. It takes away custom from legitimate businesses while putting those people who buy it at greater risk.”
The move comes exactly one month after JTI hosted an anti-illicit event in parliament, attended by MPs across the political spectrum.
NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter said: “The businesses of legitimate independent retailers – some of which have been built up over many years – are being devastated by illegal tobacco and alcohol sales.
“We are fully supportive of any efforts that will raise the profile of the dangers associated with illicit products.”
Imperial Tobacco and JTI told Retail Express they fully supported the group. A spokesperson from Imperial Tobacco said: “We look forward to engaging with the APPG if called upon to do so. As a company, we invest significant resources in combating illegal tobacco.”
Mark Yexley, JTI head of communications, added: “The availability of illegal tobacco damages local communities across the UK. Along with retailers, suppliers and the Government, we all have a role to play to combat the issue.”
The first meeting of the group will take place on September 5 where a list of participating politicians is likely to be announced.
Matthew Offord has previously spoken on tobacco twice in parliament, once to ask how to combat tobacco smuggling after plain packaging laws were introduced, and another time to ask how tax revenues will be impacted by plain packaging laws.
Read more: Retailers have their say on the APPG on illicit trade.
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