Smuggling strangling shop trade

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NEW figures reveal one in eight North East corner shops are under threat because of cigarette smuggling.

Statistics found that 13 per cent of the region’s retailers are losing sales because of it.

The survey, carried out by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA), also found two in five shops in the same area have considered cutting staff for the same reason.

John Abbott, TRA North East spokesman, 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 into line with the UK.”