HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Border Force have published their new plan to reduce illicit tobacco sales.
The new strategy aims to start reducing the growing market for illicit roll your own (RYO) tobacco and hold the illicit cigarette market share at or below 10%.
Both organisations plan to maintain their focus on illicit tobacco seizures whilst improving coordination with partners in the UK and internationally to tackle the fraud at all points in the supply chain from production to retail.
Penalties will also be focused on with a targeted consultation on sanctions with other departments, law enforcement agencies, businesses and health groups to take place.
Plans to launch a registration scheme with appropriate enforcement sanctions for users and dealers in raw tobacco have also been drawn up.
The groups also hope to establish a cross-government ministerial group to oversee future evolution of the anti-illicit tobacco strategy.
The strategy will build on the 2011 launch of the joint HMRC/Border Force strategy to tackle tobacco smuggling. Since then, 177 people have been convicted of organised tobacco crime offences and 605 people have been convicted of smaller scale tobacco crime offences.
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Priti Patel said: “Tobacco excise fraud is a crime which deprives the UK of £2bn every year – money which could be used to fund essential public services, including tackling the damaging impacts of tobacco itself.
“But its impact extends far beyond that. This illicit global trade also damages legitimate business, undermines public health and facilitates the supply of tobacco to young people. The criminality involved, including the use of the proceeds by organised gangs to fund other crimes, has a devastating effect on individuals and communities across the UK and abroad.
“This strategy will build on the progress already being made by looking at new ways the UK and its international partners can combat tobacco fraudsters and beat the illicit market.”