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Stronger powers to combat illicit tobacco come into force

From 20th July 2023, new sanctions came into force which will mean businesses and individuals selling illicit tobacco can receive a penalty of up to £10,000.

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Trading Standards Officers will now have the power to refer cases to HMRC for further investigation where businesses or individuals have been found to sell illicit tobacco. HMRC, where appropriate, will administer the penalties and ensure the appropriate sanction is applied and enforced. Depending on the severity of the breach, rule-breaking businesses could:

  • Receive a penalty of between £2,500 and £10,000 for the supply of products which contravene Tobacco Track & Trace (TT&T)
  • Have their tobacco products seized
  • Lose their license to buy tobacco for resale in the UK by having their Economic Operator ID withdraw

The new powers build on the successful work of Operation CeCe, a joint initiative between HMRC and National Trading Standards to tackle the illicit tobacco trade, which has removed 27 million illicit cigarettes and 7,500kg of hand rolling tobacco from sale in its first two years.

Trade in illicit tobacco costs the exchequer over £2 billion in lost tax revenue each year. It also damages legitimate businesses, undermines public health and facilitates the supply of tobacco to young people.