Tobacco company Philip Morris (PML) has revealed that between December 2015 and September 2016 it excluded 43 retailers, with a further 7 exclusions pending, from its trade programs and field sales force call base in cases where stores have been found to engage in the sale of illicit tobacco products. 

PML UK sales director Gerald Margolis said: “At PML we are fully committed to clamping down on the sale of illicit tobacco products. We will continue to remove offending retailers from our trade programs and field sales force call files.

“With the devastating impact on legitimate tobacco traders, the annual revenue loss to the UK government being so high, and the association with organised crime, we hope to engage further with authorities to look for more ways we can assist them in the fight against the illicit trade.”

Commenting on the move, NFRN communications manager Anne Bingham said: “The NFRN welcomes PML’s initiative and its support for independent retailers in the fight against the trade in illicit tobacco products.

"The black market causes enormous harm to independent retailers and the communities which they serve and initiatives like this that look to highlight and tackle the problem are important in assisting those retailers who only sell legitimate products to those who can legally purchase them.”

Additionally, PML will continue to support legitimate retailers and distributors with the “EX-IT” strategy to raise awareness of the risks in illicit tobacco products. PML has already engaged with over 7,500 retailers in through EX-IT.

Retailers with information relating to the illicit trade of tobacco should contact the HMRC Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.