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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

1 in 12 Corner Shops in Yorkshire Face Closure

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10:49am 22nd August 2012

A new survey has found that nearly one in 12 corner shops (8%) in Yorkshire and Humberside are under threat due to lost sales resulting from tobacco smuggling and cross-border shopping.

The survey by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA) also found that one in four shops (26%) in Yorkshire and Humberside have considered reducing staff numbers for the same reason.

Samantha Coldbeck, a Hull retailer and a member of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, commented:

"These results are very worrying for independent retailers like me and demonstrate that tobacco smuggling is so prevalent, it is threatening the existence of a part of the fabric of our communities that so many people rely on.

"The UK is such a hotspot for smuggling because the high tax on tobacco makes it one of the most profitable places in the world for criminals to carry out their trade.

"The Government needs to allow tax levels in other countries in Europe to catch up and come more in to line with the UK so that there is not such a huge financial temptation for smugglers to focus their activities here."

Dave Tingle, a Sheffield retailer and a member of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, commented:

"If the Government introduces the plain packaging of tobacco, this would play into the hands of smugglers as they will no longer have to spend time and money copying the complex variety of branding currently present across the range of tobacco products.

"So that will mean more profit for the smugglers which will be channelled into underworld activities such as people trafficking and prostitution. In addition, more sales for the smugglers means lost sales for legitimate retailers like me."

A recent poll found that 86% of serving police officers in the UK said plain packaging would increase tobacco smuggling. Separately, the Government received around half a million responses against the proposal for plain packaging in its recently closed consultation on the subject.

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