HMRC has continued to tackle the UK’s most notorious hotspots for the sale and supply of illicit tobacco as part of its overall remit to tackle tax fraud. This has resulted in the seizure of more than 27 million illicit cigarettes and 7,500kg of hand-rolling tobacco.
These seizures have taken place under Operation CeCe in its first two years of action. Operation CeCe is a joint HMRC-National Trading Standards operation which has been working to seize illicit tobacco since January 2021.
New legislation has also come into effect from 20 July, which could see penalties of up to £10,000 for any businesses and individuals who sell illicit tobacco products. The sanctions will bolster the government’s efforts to tackle the illicit tobacco market and reduce tobacco duty fraud.
Illicit tobacco is defined as any tobacco product that is sold in the UK without the payment of excise duty.
HMRC’s Deputy Director for Excise and Environmental Taxes, said:
‘Trade in illicit tobacco costs the Exchequer more than £2 billion in lost tax revenue each year. It also damages legitimate businesses, undermines public health and facilitates the supply of tobacco to young people.
These sanctions build on HMRC’s enforcement of illicit tobacco controls, will strengthen our response against those involved in street level distribution, and act as a deterrent to anyone thinking that they can make a quick and easy sale and undercut their competition.’