Byline: Mike Underwood
Corner shops on Teesside are among hundreds that could be forced to close due to black market tobacco, it was claimed today.
Many small shop bosses claim they are losing about pounds 1,000 in sales a week because black market baccy is cheaper, a survey carried out by the UK Tobacco Alliance revealed.
The study also revealed that 25pc of retailers in the North-east and Yorkshire have had to make staff cuts while a further 28pc have considered making redundancies.
It also showed how almost one third of independent retailers are now considering closing their shops as a result of tobacco smuggling.
John Abbott, the North-east spokesman of the Tobacco Alliance and a Darlington retailer, said: "Sadly, some businessman are cutting their losses by shutting up shop, converting the premises back to residential and then selling it on.
"If nothing is done to stop smuggled tobacco it is more and more likely that communities will lose their local shop."
He added: "We very much welcome the recent achievements of HM Customs and their increased efforts through Customs Minister John Healey MP in tackling tobacco smuggling. …