JTI has removed tobacco gantries from Alric Food & Wine in Harlesden, Brent, and JB Patel and Son on Woolwich New Road in south-east London, following prosecutions for selling illegal tobacco.

Paul Williams, UK head of corporate affairs, commented: “Given the offences committed by these retailers JTI has decided that the removal of our gantries was the most appropriate course of action. This brings the total number of gantry removals in the past year to eight.

“JTI has had to do this as we continue to see a minority of independent retailers get sucked into this illegal trade, giving honest hard-working retailers a bad name. If this type of crime continues, customers who buy tobacco products will lose faith and trust in their local shops as the perception grows that the independent trade is rife with ‘dodgy cigs’.

“Our commitment to support the actions of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and trading standards is steadfast and we must work together to eradicate this trend.

”Anyone who knows of criminals supplying illegal cigarettes in their area owes it to their local community to report them to the Customs Hotline - 0800 595000.”