According to a report by Fnanznachrichten, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has released a study stating that at least nine local councils in the United Kingdom have failed to investigate any illegal or counterfeit tobacco between 2018 and 2022, and there have been no prosecutions either.
During the past five years, a number of parliamentary councils including Rochdale, Harvelin, and Kingston upon Thames have opted for inaction, while councils in cities like Hull have conducted 249 investigations and prosecuted 53 criminal cases during the same period.
Information freedom requests sent by JTI to 96 parliamentary bodies in England and Wales reveal significant disparities in the approaches taken by local councils.
JTI argues that the lack of action by these committees will undoubtedly lead to an increase in illegal tobacco sales, which are often linked to organized crime, causing harm to local communities and resulting in a significant tobacco tax gap. According to estimates by HMRC, this gap represents the difference between the amount of tax theoretically due to HMRC and the actual amount of tax paid.
Since 2018, a total of £9.3 billion in tax revenues has been lost as a result of this. In the fiscal year 2021-22 alone, the tax shortfall has reached £2.2 billion.
According to the Police Federation, £2.2 billion could cover the costs of over 77,000 new police officers.
Sarah Connor, the Communications Director of JTI UK, has expressed concerns over the inadequate enforcement of existing laws by certain parliamentary bodies, raising doubts about their ability and competence to enforce more complex generational bans. Illicit tobacco has already become a significant problem, and the implementation of generational bans might push adult smokers towards purchasing cigarettes, thereby exacerbating the issue.