Proposed action from HMRC to tackle tobacco duty evasion, highlighting the impact that the illicit trade has on legitimate retailers, has been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
The 12-week consultation is considering a range of measures to tackle the illicit tobacco trade, including:
- extending the ability to enforce selected track and trace sanctions to trading standards;
- a new penalty of up to £10,000 for holding or possessing products that do not comply with the track and trace requirements;
- power to seize any track and trace compliant tobacco products where they are found alongside products that do not comply with the track and trace requirements;
- withdrawal of the track and trace operator ID from retailers who are found with products that do not comply with the track and trace requirements;
- withdrawal of the track and trace operator ID from retailers that have had their ability to sell tobacco restricted or curtailed under any other legislation.
According to HMRC estimates, the illicit tobacco trade cost the government around £1.5bn in lost revenue in 2018/19.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The illicit tobacco market damages legitimate retailers and is dangerous for consumers.
“We have long called for tough action against the illicit trade, and welcome this consultation, which aims to ensure that those selling illicit tobacco are stopped from doing so.
“We will also be working to advise our members to make sure that they do not unwittingly fall foul of the tough enforcement measures we need.”