The war on illegal tobacco not over
THE article of May 1 (Drop in illegal tobacco sales) – reporting that “tobacco sales are at a record low” in the North East” – does not reflect my everyday experience or, I suspect, that of thousands of other small retailers in the region whose legitimate businesses are badly affected by illegal tobacco.
If anything, the opposite is true as other reports I have read say that the amount of illicit tobacco in the North East is actually rising.
What I do know is that my tobacco sales continue to be negatively impacted by the cheap (often half price) illegal tobacco that can be bought anywhere and can contain pretty much anything (including rat droppings).
Fellow retailers tell me that many customers who formerly bought cigarette papers and the loose leaf tobacco now only purchase the papers – leaving them wondering where they are sourcing their tobacco and whether they know what they are actually buying?
It stands to reason that because tobacco here is so expensive (due to high Government taxes), the UK has become the tobacco smugglers’ destination of choice. They can make huge profits with relatively little risk compared to drug smuggling. What is more, they will think nothing of targeting children whom we are all trying to protect.
Seeking to gain a better understanding of the illicit tobacco market can only be a good thing in terms of tackling the problem but we should not fool ourselves that the problem is going away. The police and other enforcement agencies deserve our full support in the fight against illegal tobacco.
Unfortunately this fight is far from won, especially as plain packaging of cigarettes by the back door is now on the European Union agenda for the UK.
North East spokesperson for Tobacco Retailers Alliance
Wasted on dock
MR Garrett was right to bring up the £3.5million wasted on the North Dock, Seaham.
Not long ago it was £2 a year to keep your boat in the dock, then in come the greedy businessmen and £2 a year is now £1,000.
Now we have all the know-alls coming in with all their fancy talk.
You have killed a lot of enjoyment for lads. That dock has never been any good for yachts.
Next, we will have humps on the road to the dock again.
Time to give up
AS fans get ready for another return to the Empire of Ken Dodd, I just wonder when the master of mirth is going to call it a day?
I have been unfortunate enough to have seen him twice and, quite frankly, I was bored stiff.
It’s the same old patter, the same jokes and the Happiness song.
I really cannot understand how this man has survived so long. The jokes are not funny and it’s almost like children’s entertainment when he comes out with that tickling stick.
It’s about time the city brought younger comedians to show off their talents instead of dinosaurs like Ken Dodd.
I really think that he should do the decent thing and quit showbusiness now.
Mick The Pen Brown