JTI has ripped out gantries from two stores found to be selling illicit tobacco as part of its ongoing commitment to fighting the black market.

Retail Express can exclusively reveal that the manufacturer removed the gantries from 6 till 11 in Ilford, Essex, and Micklefield Superstore in High Wycombe, Bucks, after the stores’ owners were both successfully prosecuted for dealing in illegal tobacco and ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £3,245.

JTI also took action against the owner of another shop – Good Morning Super Store in Harrow, north-west London – which was found with almost 1,000 litres of illicit alcohol as well as illegal tobacco. The store will no longer receive support and expertise from JTI.

The action follows Camelot suspending its relationship with the retailer and the store’s local authority revoking the alcohol licence.

“Ahead of the May 20 deadline to sell branded cigarette and RYO packs, our actions and that of the law enforcement agencies should serve as timely reminders to any retailer tempted to sell illegal tobacco products in their shops,” said Charlie Cunningham-Reid, head of corporate affairs.

“Any retailer who attempts to exploit the new environment will find that alongside tobacco manufacturers, trading standards departments and HMRC will continue to investigate, disrupt and prosecute those involved in the illegal tobacco trade.”

He added that retailers should be aware that if an offer seems too be good to be true then it probably is and stock should only be purchased from a reputable cash & carry or a known tobacco company representative.

JTI called on other category partners in the distribution chain to withdraw support from any retailer selling illegal tobacco and urged retailers that know of illicit trading in their area to contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.

Scottish National Party MP Martyn Day has called on the Government to “stop dragging its feet” on tackling the illicit trade problem in the UK.