Illicit tobacco

In response to your article (“Plain to see why Big Tobacco has a resistance”, 2 October), the Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA) is transparent about its funding from the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association which is funded by BAT, Gallaher (a member of the JTI group of companies) and 
Imperial Tobacco. The survey that Ash Scotland criticises was not – as it says – a survey of the manufacturers but a survey of Scottish shopkeepers.

The survey found that one in ten Scottish corner shops (10 per cent) was under threat due to lost sales from tobacco smuggling and cross-border shopping.

The survey also found that nearly four in ten corner shop owners (38 per cent) have considered reducing staff due to lost sales from tobacco smuggling and cross-border shopping, up from two in ten (28 per cent) in 2012.

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This is largely because the 
retail trade in Scotland missed out on an estimated £300 million in sales in 2012 – equivalent to £24,000 in lost turnover for each of the 5,400 small shops 
operating, due to the illicit
tobacco trade in Scotland.

Separately, another poll found that 86 per cent of serving police officers in the UK said plain packaging would increase tobacco smuggling.

In addition, the UK government received around half a million responses opposing the proposal for plain packaging in its recently closed consultation on the subject. If plain packaging was introduced, counterfeiters would only have one design to copy rather than the intricately designed variety now available.

Plain packaging would have the counter-productive effect of increasing children’s access to 
tobacco due to the greater 
prevalence of the illicit trade.

Geoff Barrett

Scottish spokesperson

Tobacco Retailers Alliance

A F & J Barrett

Byres Road