JTI (Japan Tobacco International), the UK’s leading tobacco manufacturer[1], has once again taken decisive 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.[2] & [3]  In the case of Lucky News in Manchester, Manchester City Council Trading Standards Officers found 1,680 illegal cigarettes, with packs on sale for as little as £6.00.

JITS Super Shop in Stalybridge had its gantry removed by JTI after its licence was suspended in January by Members of Tameside’s licensing panel.[4] 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, sending a clear message to irresponsible retailers that they will be caught and will face legal, financial and commercial consequences. JTI calls 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 & 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.

The illicit tobacco trade remains a serious problem in the UK and JTI is committed to defending its own brands by supporting a range of measures including private prosecutions and gantry removals. If retailers know, or suspect, illegal tobacco is being sold in their area, they should call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133, HMRC’s Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

[1] IRi Market Place, Volume Share, Total Tobacco Category, Total UK, FY 2020

[2] See “Lancaster shop fined after court hears it sold illegally labelled smoking product”Lancashire Post, 7th January 2021

[3] See “Alfie ‘nose’ best when it comes to finding illegal tobacco”Locally News, 30th November 2020

[4] See “Shop which sold alcohol and cigarettes to schoolchildren has licence suspended”Manchester Evening News, 12th January 2021

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