The reports that we talk about in our latest Smoke Them Out article help prove that our campaign has been launched at the perfect time.
For the first time ever, more councils are carrying out trading standards activities relating to illicit tobacco than are taking action on underage smoking. This signifies a clear shift in the battleground.
Jane MacGregor’s claim that the illicit trade undermines every effort to tackle the number of smokers in the UK is startling.
The focus has shifted to counter the rise of the illicit trade. An HMRC report indicates that illicit cigarettes now have a market share of 14%. That is bigger than brands like Mayfair.
While illicit tobacco takes up a larger amount of time, trading standards budgets are being slashed. Back in April, CEO Leon Livermore warned that by 2016 most trading standards services in England and Wales would have been cut by an average of 40% since 2010.
The increase in focus by the 148 councils that responded to the Trading Standards survey backs up HMRC’s estimate of the size of the illicit market. But the increase in focus is being undertaken by fewer officials, meaning that we’re hearing from retailers who say that they have seen stores being busted – but they’ve also seen them reopening within days.
Hearing from retailers is only one part of our Smoke Them Out campaign. Behind the scenes, we’re putting plans in place to take this information to senior officials and MPs, to find out first hand the work that goes on – and to push for more work to happen.
We need all of the information that you can give us. So please don’t stop calling in.
The number is 020 7689 3376. All calls taken are anonymous.