Retailers should act now to protect their businesses against the increasing threat of illicit tobacco, according to a new report from JTI.

The company, makers of brands including Benson & Hedges, Mayfair and Silk Cut, has produced the report, headlined ‘Tobacco Smuggling: A UK Challenge’, to highlight the cost to retailers of illegally produced and smuggled cigarettes and roll your own tobacco.

The impact on retailers across the country, caused primarily by increasing taxes and the relaxation of UK border control, is huge, according to figures from JTI’s own surveys, related in the report.

Up to 24 per cent of all cigarettes consumed in the north of England are non-UK duty paid, according to the JTI Pack Swap survey, with the figure around 20 per cent in London, 19 per cent in the north east and 18 per cent in the north west of the country.

Speaking at the launch of the report, JTI head of communications Jeremy Blackburn said that “legitimate retailers need to protect their businesses from criminals that steal customers and profit from them on a daily basis” and urged retailers to get in touch with Customs if they had any problems with illegal tobacco in their area.

The report can be found here.