1bn Euro Up in Smoke through Smuggling

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ONE-in-four independent retailers in Northern Ireland may be forced to close because of tobacco smuggling.

That's the warning from the Tobacco Alliance, which today published a survey showing that retailers across the UK are losing on average almost pounds 1,000 in sales a week due to smuggling.

The alliance represents 19,000 independent retailers across the UK through its campaign Retailers Against Smuggling.

According to the survey, smuggling has resulted in 26 per cent of retailers considering closing their business, 28 per cent considering cutting jobs and 25 per cent have been forced to make staff redundant.

The survey also found that 73 per cent of retailers believe the way to stop tobacco smuggling is to reduce or freeze the tax on tobacco, and 93 per cent feel that the Government is not doing enough to help the retailers affected.

Audrey Wales, national spokeswoman of the Tobacco Alliance and a Ballymena retailer, said the Government's high level of tobacco taxation was contributing to the problem.

"We very much welcome the recent achievements of HM Customs and their increased efforts through Customs Minister John Healy in tackling tobacco smuggling. …