JTI removed its tobacco gantry from Crown Convenience Store on Lancaster Road North in Preston following a prosecution for possession of illegal tobacco products.

Charlie Cunningham-Reid, UK head of corporate affairs, commented: “Given the offence committed by this retailer, JTI has decided that the removal of our gantry was the most appropriate course of action. JTI has had to do this as we continue to see some 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 cigarettes’.

“Our commitment to support the actions of HM Revenue & Customs and trading standards is steadfast and we must work together to eradicate this trend along with the reputable hard working retailers who also want to see an end to this crime.”

He added that 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.