Anti-Tobacco Lobby Group Lets ‘Cat out of the Bag’ by demanding tobacco licensing scheme as a revenue raiser

Anti-Tobacco Lobby Group Lets ‘Cat out of the Bag’ by demanding tobacco licensing scheme as a revenue raiser

  • Report also finds main source of illicit tobacco to be non-retail
  • Finds link between children increasingly purchasing illicit tobacco
  • Lobby Group criticised given its role in aggressively pushing for high tobacco taxes

A publicly funded tobacco control group has openly called for a retail licensing scheme as way of generating cash. This is the first time that such a group has openly admitted why it wants such a scheme with previous calls being around attempts to control the illicit market. The call by the taxpayer funded group Fresh North East, that received around £850k from taxpayers in 2015/16, was contained in the results of a Fresh survey that found the children were increasingly accessing illicit tobacco as their primary source. The same report found that private addresses were the leading source of illicit tobacco rather than retail.

Suleman Khonat, National Spokesman of the TRA said:

“Fresh North East has well and truly let the cat out of the bag with its call to introduce a licensing scheme to simply raise cash. This is the first time that such a group has admitted this is why it wants a licensing scheme. Any scheme and costs would simply fall on many, small independent retailers. “Yet its own figures published in this report show that any licensing scheme would have little impact on the illicit trade and that private sources, not retail, were by far and away the leading cause of illicit trade. This is therefore just blatant opportunism bending facts with no solid evidence to suit their own agenda.

“It also beggars belief for this group that has campaigned so aggressively for tax increases on tobacco in recent years to be surprised that the streets are now flooded with illegal tobacco that children are getting their hands on. Everyone knows that high taxes are the chief reason for illicit tobacco. This group needs to take responsibility for its actions.“

“I will be writing to the Government and MPs highlighting how Fresh has twisted these facts and the real agenda that it is at play here. Its time someone looked at how public funding was being used by this group.”

ENDS

Fresh survey finds private addresses are the leading source of illicit tobacco (42%) followed by shops (24%) Fresh states: “Fresh is calling on the Government to introduce a licensing system for tobacco manufacturers and retailers to provide funding for improved enforcement and other measures to reduce smoking prevalence.”

A copy of the report can be found here: http://www.freshne.com/in-the-news/pr/item/2182-illegal-tobacco-hooking-teens
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