Today, BBC Wales ran a number of stories around the increasing threat of illicit tobacco in Wales.
The catalyst was a series of comments by Powys Council Trading Standards, with senior investigator Clive Jones claiming existing tobacco control strategies could be undermined unless there was a heightened emphasis on enforcement courtesy of the Welsh Government. If this did not manifest, Jones suggested criminals may view Wales as an ‘open door to make money’.
James Hall, Anti-Illicit Trade Manager, Imperial Tobacco UK, comments: “These latest concerning comments reflect the continuing struggle to bring the rampant illegal tobacco trade under control in Wales.
“We appreciate many local Trading Standards authorities – including Powys – are under a great deal of pressure in terms of resource. Imperial’s dedicated anti-illicit trade team will continue to lend our support, when requested, to all forms of law enforcement in the fight against illegal tobacco.
“The illicit tobacco trade represents a significant threat to many communities, both in Wales and the wider UK. It may be perceived as harmless by some, but the reality is that it bankrupts local retailers, floods villages and towns with unregulated products, increases exposure to minors and often has links to organised crime.
“We would urge any members of the public or retailers aware of illegal tobacco activity in their locality to contact the appropriate authorities. Alternatively, they can submit information directly to our website at www.suspect-it-report-it.co.uk.”