Illicit tobacco and Vapes_JTI

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the next government to improve enforcement against the illicit tobacco trade.

This came following new data from HM Revenue and Customs on the prevalence of non-duty paid and illicit products in the UK, which revealed that the tobacco tax gap driven by illicit cigarettes and tobacco products stands at £2.2bn, while the alcohol tax gap from illicit and non duty-paid products standing at £0.6bn.

There are no official estimates from HM Revenue and Customs of the VAT lost on vaping products.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The Government is losing billions of pounds every year to the illicit trade, with significant levels of uncertainty remaining about the real extent of the problem and no estimate of the money lost to illicit vape sellers. It is crucial that whoever forms the next Government makes enforcement against illicit sellers and supply chains a priority.”

Research commissioned by ACS earlier this year shows that Trading Standards in England need an additional £140m over the next five years to tackling the rising tide of illegal vape devices being distributed in England. The additional funding, which would start at £30.7m in year one, rising to £36.2m in year two and then gradually falling, represents an initial 28.4% increase in Trading Standards budgets, making it one of the most significant expansions of Trading Standards capability for at least a generation.

Research of Trading Standards authorities has identified that since 2020, three illegal vapes have been seized every minute. Between 2020 and 2023, the amount of illegal vape devices seized by Trading Standards increased 19-fold, with a total of 4.18 million illegal vapes seized during the last three years.