One in eight corner shops (13%) are under threat due to lost sales resulting from tobacco smuggling and cross-border shopping, according to a new survey by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA).
TRA also found that three in 10 shops (31%) have considered reducing staff numbers for the same reason.
Debbie Corris, a Whitstable retailer and the national spokeswoman for the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, said: “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.”
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.
Source: Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA)