From: Surrey Mirror
By Chris Madden
CHANGES aimed at cutting smoking in the UK will hit small shops and help counterfeit tobacco sellers, a trader has said.
The Government is consulting on plans to enforce a uniform design for all cigarette packets, which would be a single colour with nothing but a brand name and a health warning.
This follows the move in April this year that forces supermarkets to keep shutters closed over cigarette display cases, and which will come into effect in small shops in 2015.
But Tony Delves, who runs Londis in Nork Way, Nork, believes the changes will help the illicit tobacco trade by making life more difficult for legal traders
He told the Mirror: “The idea of plain packaging is that it will deter sales, but it won’t, it just makes serving harder.
“The queueing will get significantly longer, the service times will go up and, with illegal cigarettes on the rise, shoppers have another option. When everything is in a plain packet it opens the door for the black market.”
His fears are echoed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which released figures in April showing £12.2 billion was lost to the illicit trade in cigarettes between 2005 and 2010.
The organisation also reported trade in counterfeit cigarettes, such as those containing fake or foreign tobacco which is not properly taxed, makes up 16 per cent of the market, with fake tobacco for hand-rolled cigarettes accounting for half of that market.
“The profit margin on cigarettes for me is very small but I can’t afford to lose it to illegal trade,” Mr Delves said.
“Counterfeit tobacco is a problem I notice here. People will come in and just buy green rollers and that is where counterfeiting will come into play.”
Will O’Reilly, a former Scotland Yard detective chief inspector who has researched the illicit trade of cigarettes in the UK for the past year, agrees plain packaging could make matters worse.
“People can’t afford the real product,” he said.
“Plans for plain packaging are simply playing into the hands of organised criminals and counterfeiters because it will be so much easier to make copies.”