JTI has removed one of its new sliding door tobacco gantries, with a dedicated E-Lites electronic cigarette section, from another store caught stocking illicit tobacco.
A raid at the Crown Convenience Store in Preston uncovered pouches of illicit Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf hidden in black bin bags, along with more than 400 packs of illicit Mayfair and Goal cigarettes hidden in crisp boxes.
Owner Crown Retail Limited was prosecuted following the raid and fined £1,945 plus costs.
Company director Dilavar Patel, who admitted to buying the tobacco, was found guilty of four offences and fined £590 plus costs.
JTI’s UK head of corporate affairs Charlie Cunningham-Reid said: “Given the offence committed by this retailer, JTI has decided that the removal of our gantry was the most appropriate course of action.
“JTI has had to do this as we continue to see some independent retailers get sucked into this illegal trade, giving honest hard-working retailers a bad name.
“If this type of crime continues, customers who buy tobacco products will lose faith and trust in their local shops as the perception grows that the independent trade is rife with ‘dodgy cigarettes’.
“Our commitment to support the actions of HMRC and Trading Standards is steadfast and we must work together to eradicate this trend along with the reputable hard working retailers who also want to see an end to this crime.”
The news came as JTI revealed impressive results following its partnership with Crimestoppers.
Launched in February, the partnership saw the Crimestoppers’ anonymous helpline number publicised as the primary “call to action” across all of JTI’s illegal tobacco campaigns throughout the UK.
The number of tobacco-related reports to Crimestoppers increased by 80% during the campaign period.
Mark Yexley, JTI’s media relations manager, added: “The calls to Crimestoppers included information on contraband and fake cigarettes and tobacco being smuggled into the UK to be sold in shops, out of people’s homes, via social media and to children.
“Details of all of these crimes have been passed by Crimestoppers to HMRC and Trading Standards in the West Midlands and South & West Yorkshire for further action and we hope to see prosecutions materialise in the very near future.”