Illegal tobacco hitting Newport shops' trade

HAUL: These cigarettes were found by Newport Trading Standards in raids in the city

HIDDEN DRAWER: These cigarettes were found in a secret compartment

First published in News
Last updated

INDEPENDENT law-abiding retailers are losing customers as a result of illegal tobacco in the city.

Last week the Argus revealed the threat of the rogue industry on Newport, after an investigation uncovered the biggest haul ever seized in the city hidden in three shops.

Trading standards are still processing the seizures from the Newport premises, but have estimated there to have been more than 365,000 cigarettes and 3,150 packets of rolling tobacco recovered in the raid.

Although trading standards’ initial estimate of the retail value was an estimated half a million pounds, they have since re-evaluated this to be at least £250,000.

This figure refers to the value of the products if there were to be sold legally.

Non-UK duty paid tobacco not only represents a loss of tax revenue to the Treasury – which was estimated to be at least £1.8 billion in 2012/13 – but more locally, a loss of profits to Wales’ 3,999 retailers that sell tobacco.

According to the Office of Fair Trading, tobacco sales constitute more than 30 per cent of revenue for independent shopkeepers.

Soraya Ali has been working at St Woolos Wine Lodge and Convenience Store for 15 years.

She said: “It’s a massive problem and I’ve seen a big increase in the last year. It affects everybody.”

Ms Ali said customers had asked her for cheap tobacco. She said she was aware of a number of Newport retailers selling illegal tobacco and welcomed the news of last week’s raids.

“I’m glad [trading standards] are doing it. I hope they get punished,” she said.

“People are going elsewhere to buy cheap fags. I’m losing customers who would have come here to buy their cigarettes but then buy others things too like chocolate or food.”

As revealed last week, these illegal products are also being sold to people under 18 – undermining other shopkeepers’ efforts to prevent children from having access to tobacco.

With the volume of illegal products found in the city, there is no denying the market for these goods. UK taxes on tobacco are among the highest in the world and in times of austerity smokers are seeking a cheaper alternative.

Following this year’s budget, a 12.5g pack of tobacco costs around £4.25 in the UK, while 50g – four times the amount – of the same can be bought in Belgium for just £3.60.

The Argus’ test purchasing investigation found a pack of 20 illegal cigarettes being sold for £3.50 and 50g packets of counterfeit Amber Leaf tobacco for £4.

Newport City Council cabinet member for licensing and statutory functions, Councillor Gail Giles, said: “It is important that sellers of any illegal and counterfeit products in Newport are caught to protect the businesses of those who sell products legally.

“It is unfair their trade is being hit.”

Anyone with information on people selling illegal and counterfeit products is urged to contact trading standards on 01633 656656.

Comments (12)

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9:56am Fri 9 May 14

Magor says...

Tax something to death and this is what happens.
Tax something to death and this is what happens. Magor
  • Score: 28

11:05am Fri 9 May 14

sooty001 says...

Work this one out then, 50g pack of Golden Virginia manufactured in the UK, exported to Belgium, on sale £3.60, same batch on sale in the UK £17.00,result, smugglers charter. Just ask 10 smokers which one they are going to purchase, bit of a no brainier really.
Work this one out then, 50g pack of Golden Virginia manufactured in the UK, exported to Belgium, on sale £3.60, same batch on sale in the UK £17.00,result, smugglers charter. Just ask 10 smokers which one they are going to purchase, bit of a no brainier really. sooty001
  • Score: 32

11:12am Fri 9 May 14

Realist UK says...

Illegal electronic cigarettes coming to a warehouse near you soon!
Illegal electronic cigarettes coming to a warehouse near you soon! Realist UK
  • Score: 9

12:11pm Fri 9 May 14

Independentvoter says...

That's a shame that independent law-abiding retailers are loosing revenue from selling a product that is known to cause long-term health problems or even kill you. What a pity
That's a shame that independent law-abiding retailers are loosing revenue from selling a product that is known to cause long-term health problems or even kill you. What a pity Independentvoter
  • Score: 12

12:51pm Fri 9 May 14

Ultimate Worrier says...

Wow; overpricing of product in creating black market shocker.

If it's so bad for people then just ban it and dole out e-cigs on the NHS for 12 months or so.

The government can't claim any credibility on this issue in my eyes. If you make it unaffordable to the primary group of people who want to buy it, what do you expect?
Wow; overpricing of product in creating black market shocker. If it's so bad for people then just ban it and dole out e-cigs on the NHS for 12 months or so. The government can't claim any credibility on this issue in my eyes. If you make it unaffordable to the primary group of people who want to buy it, what do you expect? Ultimate Worrier
  • Score: 9

1:19pm Fri 9 May 14

VoiceOfDaPort says...

Isn't it about time these shops grow a pair and stopped selling tobacco in all it's forms
Isn't it about time these shops grow a pair and stopped selling tobacco in all it's forms VoiceOfDaPort
  • Score: -4

2:59pm Fri 9 May 14

Jimport says...

Independentvoter wrote:
That's a shame that independent law-abiding retailers are loosing revenue from selling a product that is known to cause long-term health problems or even kill you. What a pity
Yes wouldn't it be a lovely world of rainbows, fluffy clouds, and lollipops if nobody smoked. Meanwhile, back in the real world, tobacco sales raised £12 billion in taxation in 2012/13. People are going to smoke, legal or not. It might as well be taxed and legal in shops. Make it illegal and you just end up with people smoking even more unhealthy illegal products with nothing going into taxation.
[quote][p][bold]Independentvoter[/bold] wrote: That's a shame that independent law-abiding retailers are loosing revenue from selling a product that is known to cause long-term health problems or even kill you. What a pity[/p][/quote]Yes wouldn't it be a lovely world of rainbows, fluffy clouds, and lollipops if nobody smoked. Meanwhile, back in the real world, tobacco sales raised £12 billion in taxation in 2012/13. People are going to smoke, legal or not. It might as well be taxed and legal in shops. Make it illegal and you just end up with people smoking even more unhealthy illegal products with nothing going into taxation. Jimport
  • Score: 3

7:58pm Fri 9 May 14

Woodgnome says...

Are we supposed to feel concerned about dealers in death? The sums need the costs of the NHS factored in for treating heart disease. lung cancer, asthma etc etc
Are we supposed to feel concerned about dealers in death? The sums need the costs of the NHS factored in for treating heart disease. lung cancer, asthma etc etc Woodgnome
  • Score: -1

9:20pm Fri 9 May 14

bugsy93 says...

Pubs and clubs have the same problem with corner shops selling cheap booze. Not helping with the problems with alcohol abuse!
Pubs and clubs have the same problem with corner shops selling cheap booze. Not helping with the problems with alcohol abuse! bugsy93
  • Score: 4

10:33pm Fri 9 May 14

Independentvoter says...

Jimport wrote:
Independentvoter wrote:
That's a shame that independent law-abiding retailers are loosing revenue from selling a product that is known to cause long-term health problems or even kill you. What a pity
Yes wouldn't it be a lovely world of rainbows, fluffy clouds, and lollipops if nobody smoked. Meanwhile, back in the real world, tobacco sales raised £12 billion in taxation in 2012/13. People are going to smoke, legal or not. It might as well be taxed and legal in shops. Make it illegal and you just end up with people smoking even more unhealthy illegal products with nothing going into taxation.
I was saying who cares that retailers are loosing a revenue - then you talk about fluffy clouds and rainbows - Il have some of what you are smoking
[quote][p][bold]Jimport[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Independentvoter[/bold] wrote: That's a shame that independent law-abiding retailers are loosing revenue from selling a product that is known to cause long-term health problems or even kill you. What a pity[/p][/quote]Yes wouldn't it be a lovely world of rainbows, fluffy clouds, and lollipops if nobody smoked. Meanwhile, back in the real world, tobacco sales raised £12 billion in taxation in 2012/13. People are going to smoke, legal or not. It might as well be taxed and legal in shops. Make it illegal and you just end up with people smoking even more unhealthy illegal products with nothing going into taxation.[/p][/quote]I was saying who cares that retailers are loosing a revenue - then you talk about fluffy clouds and rainbows - Il have some of what you are smoking Independentvoter
  • Score: -2

9:09am Sat 10 May 14

Dai Rear says...

Woodgnome wrote:
Are we supposed to feel concerned about dealers in death? The sums need the costs of the NHS factored in for treating heart disease. lung cancer, asthma etc etc
And those who die prematurely from these causes may well cost the NHS and the DWP considerably less than the cost of geriatric non-smokers receiving hospital treatment and geriatric non-smoking indigents being lodged in care homes. Who knows? No one is going to do the math because the arguments of the "antis" are spurious. They, like the leading non-smoker, old Adolf, just want to tell others what to do. Why this newspaper should wish to campaign for massive taxes on fags is beyond me. We're taxed to perdition already. The amount the State spends is unsustainable even with the intentional devaluation of the currency by quantitative easing.
[quote][p][bold]Woodgnome[/bold] wrote: Are we supposed to feel concerned about dealers in death? The sums need the costs of the NHS factored in for treating heart disease. lung cancer, asthma etc etc[/p][/quote]And those who die prematurely from these causes may well cost the NHS and the DWP considerably less than the cost of geriatric non-smokers receiving hospital treatment and geriatric non-smoking indigents being lodged in care homes. Who knows? No one is going to do the math because the arguments of the "antis" are spurious. They, like the leading non-smoker, old Adolf, just want to tell others what to do. Why this newspaper should wish to campaign for massive taxes on fags is beyond me. We're taxed to perdition already. The amount the State spends is unsustainable even with the intentional devaluation of the currency by quantitative easing. Dai Rear
  • Score: -5

5:50pm Sat 10 May 14

andrew57 says...

Jest come back holiday in spain amber leaf 50g £5.60 UK £16 anyone paying £16 in supermarket or shop must be lotto winners or mentally unstable
Jest come back holiday in spain amber leaf 50g £5.60 UK £16 anyone paying £16 in supermarket or shop must be lotto winners or mentally unstable andrew57
  • Score: 1

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