According to Fnanznachrichten news, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) released research stating that at least nine local councils in the UK did not conduct any investigations or prosecutions for illegal or counterfeit tobacco between 2018 and 2022.
Some councils, including Rochdale, Havering and Kingston-upon-Thames, chose not to take action over the five years, while councils in cities such as Hull conducted 249 inquiries and investigated 53 cases during the period. Crimes were prosecuted.
Freedom of information requests sent by JTI to 96 councils in England and Wales revealed significant differences in the approaches taken by local councils.
JTI believes that failure to act by these councils will undoubtedly lead to an increase in illicit tobacco sales, which are often linked to organized crime, causing harm to local communities and leading to large tobacco tax gaps. The gap is the difference between the amount of tax theoretically due to HMRC and the amount actually paid, according to HMRC's estimates.
Since 2018, £9.3 billion in tax revenue has been lost as a result, leaving a tax gap of £2.2 billion in 2021-22 alone.
According to the Police Federation, £2.2 billion could pay for more than 77,000 new police officers.
Sarah Connor, communications director at JTI UK, said: "The poor enforcement of existing laws by some councils raises doubts about their ability and ability to enforce more complex intergenerational bans. Illegal tobacco is already a A major problem, and an intergenerational ban could make it worse by prompting adult smokers to buy cigarettes."