from Leo Gillen, MD, Gillens Supermarkets, Hartlepool

Sir; Retailers will have been delighted to see that the government’s public health White Paper makes it clear that there is a link between tobacco smuggling and smoking by children who are under age (‘The under-age issue burns’, The Grocer, November 20, p5).
The Department of Health has rightly identified that bootlegging leads to an unregulated black market which, unlike responsible local retail outlets, freely sells tobacco to children. The same is true of the black market in alcohol.
Through the ACS, retailers have been pressing for the government to acknowledge this link. We have consistently made the case that bootlegging damages retail businesses and
the health of our communities.
However, the White Paper failed to make the next logical step of proposing effective action to address this problem.
The only way to tackle the root cause of bootlegging is to harmonise our duty rates with those in the rest of Europe.
The real solutions to under-age smoking have again been glossed over.