Philip Morris has expelled 43 retailers from its trade programmes and rep visits after the stores were found to be selling illegal tobacco.

The 43 illicit traders were removed between December 2015 and September 2016, with a further seven exclusions pending.

“At Philip Morris Limited (PML)we are fully committed to clamping down on the sale of illicit tobacco products. We will continue to remove offending retailers from our trade programmes and field sales force call files,” said Gerald Margolis, PML sales director.

“With the devastating impact on legitimate tobacco traders, the annual revenue loss to the UK Government being so high, and the association with organised crime, we hope to engage further with authorities to look for more ways we can assist them in the fight against the illicit trade.”

Anne Bingham, communications manager at the NFRN, welcomed the move. She said: “The black market causes enormous harm to independent retailers and the communities which they serve and initiatives like this that look to highlight and tackle the problem are important in assisting those retailers who only sell legitimate products to those who can legally purchase them.” 

Philip Morris will continue to support legitimate retailers and distributors with its ‘EX-IT’ strategy to raise awareness of the risks in illicit tobacco products. This year, the company sent ‘EX-IT’ kits to more than 7,500 retailers for the campaign.

Retailers with information relating to the illicit trade of tobacco should contact the HMRC customs hotline on 0800 595 000.

For more on the illicit trade go to the Retail Express page.