JTI has taken further action against sellers of illicit tobacco by removing tobacco gantries from three retail stores in the north west of England.

The removal of JTI gantries from Moorgate News in Lancaster and Lucky News in Manchester came after both retailers were found to be selling illegal tobacco products. In the case of Lucky News, Manchester City Council trading standards officers found 1,680 illegal cigarettes, with packs on sale for as little as £6.

JITS Super Shop in Stalybridge had its gantry removed by JTI after its licence was suspended in January by Tameside’s licensing panel. It followed an investigation by local police and HMRC, after reports the store was selling alcohol and “cigarettes for 50p each” to schoolchildren in the local area. According to parents and representatives from local schools, there had been significant historical issues with the sale of contraband to pupils for several years.

Since 2017 JTI has removed 46 gantries across the UK, and the company said it was sending a clear message to irresponsible retailers that they will be caught and will face legal, financial and commercial consequences. JTI is calling on other companies supplying products and services to these stores to review their relationships with them and consider if they are the type of business they want to be associated with.

Ian Howell, JTI’s fiscal and regulatory affairs manager, said: “Illicit and underage tobacco sales are not victimless crimes and are both harmful for communities across the UK. We’re committed to supporting honest retailers through our Don’t Be Complicit in Illicit campaign and microsite, which features a host of useful articles and advice to combat the illegal trade, as well as our IDentify scheme, which aims to reduce the number of independent premises ‘at risk’ of selling tobacco, vaping and other nicotine products to minors.”

If retailers know, or suspect, illegal tobacco is being sold in their area, they can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133, HMRC’s Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.