I READ with interest your article “Tobacco haul is biggest ever found in Newport” published 2nd May 2014.

Members of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents 5,500 independent forecourts, are increasingly concerned about the amount of illicit tobacco on our streets and the direct impact it has on their businesses.

A survey carried out of PRA members last month has shown that 73% believe that illicit trade hurts their business and decreases their annual sales revenue with almost two thirds believing that the problem is getting worse.

Retailers are also increasingly opposed to Government proposals to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products and think it will harm retailers because it will fuel illicit trade and people will buy their cigarettes from the black market.

We stand shoulder with Priti Patel MP in her campaign to oppose plain packaging and defend the interests of small retailers. In Australia, the only country in the world to have introduced plain packaging, show these concerns are well founded.

The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) says 70% of retailers have been negatively affected by plain packaging, with 67% saying that the growth of the black market has had an impact on their business since plain packaging was introduced.

During the same period, the sale of illegal, branded cigarettes has increased by 154%, according to KPMG. Tobacco consumption has remained constant.

The more retailers hear about the impact of plain packaging in Australia the more opposed they are to seeing it introduced in the UK.

In the Government’s own review Sir Cyril Chantler stated that evidence from Australia is ‘modest and has limitations’. Retailers here are unanimous that the Government should fully evaluate the Australian experiment before implementing plain packaging.

Brian Madderson Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association London