Government plans to introduce harsher penalties to tackle tobacco duty evasion have been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The plans were revealed in the government’s response to a consultation, launched at the end of last year, which sought views on proposals for new sanctions linked to the UK’s tobacco track and trace system, and extending HMRC’s traceability enforcement powers to trading standards officers.

Legislation will now be introduced in the Finance Bill 2021/22 for a new track and trace related penalty for using non-compliant products. The government has said it believes a six-month period for removal of EOID codes (economic operator ID codes which are required for any business to operate in the tobacco supply chain) is appropriate for severe non-compliance and will continue to review circumstances where it would be proportionate to seek a longer period of removal.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The illicit market is extremely detrimental to legitimate retailers and we welcome the introduction of tougher sanctions to help eliminate illicit sellers from the market.

“We encourage Trading Standards officers and HMRC to broaden their outlook on sources of illicit and non-duty paid tobacco products to address and enforce against those trading illicit tobacco in communities, such as criminals selling on streets and from private dwellings.”