A newly launched application from Imperial aims to aid the fight against illicit tobacco sellers. Imperial's SARA will allow reps from the company to more efficiently log retailer reports of illicit tobacco sales by inputting the data on iPads on the go.

In under two months the app has boosted illicit activity reporting by approximately tenfold, with more than 300 reports now filed by reps in 2018 so far. Already the strategy is paying off, with seven successful raids by police and trading standards and more than 50 illicit tobacco Facebook ads removed as a result of the evidence passed on through Imperial's SARA.

Imperial anti-illicit trade manager James Hall told Retail Express: “Owing to all of the data now being recorded in one central digital database, our Insights & Intelligence team can now also track and analyse both national and regional patterns much more robustly.”

Imperial's SARA now forms part of its Suspect It? Report It! campaign to combat the illicit tobacco trade.

Illicit tobacco sales continued to rise in 2017 and also saw the first counterfeit plain packs appear in the UK market.