JTI removed tobacco gantries from Metro Food and Wine Limited in Slough and Quality Food & Wine in Reading on January 14 following prosecutions for selling illegal tobacco.

Paul Williams, UK head of corporate affairs, commented: “Given the offences committed by these retailers we cannot allow the JTI display equipment which we have provided to remain in the premises. Retailers’ involvement in these dishonest crimes are totally unacceptable and more can be done to eradicate the sale of illegal tobacco.

“Every honest retailer should protect their business and local community from criminals who sell illegal tobacco. To look the other way and do nothing is not acceptable. Our commitment to support the actions of HMRC and Trading Standards is steadfast and we must work together to eradicate this trend.”

HMRC commented, “We welcome action by Japan Tobacco International (JTI) to withdraw support from retail outlets convicted for the sale of illicit tobacco.”

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