HMRC must respond better to the impact illicit tobacco is having on independent retailers’ businesses and increase raids carried out and fines issued, according to the NFRN.

At Tuesday’s national council meeting, NFRN national president Linda Sood praised Dudley Trading Standards for taking fast action following a tip-off from a federation member this month.

“From the retailer’s report of illicit sales through to the seizure, this exercise took just 10 days,” said Mrs Sood. “Normally it can take six to nine months to gather intelligence.”

NFRN head of public affairs Adrian Roper said retailers needed more action like this to take illicit tobacco off the streets.

“HMRC is great at listening, but doesn’t say a great deal. It needs to get a grip on the impact illicit tobacco is having on retailers’ businesses,” he said, adding that HMRC was doing a lot at international level, while independent retailers’ businesses were being destroyed.

“It needs to be working with the police and trading standards to carry out raids like this more often. At the moment fines are negligible compared to the profits available,” he said.