Sir: The NFRN welcomes the commitment of the European Commission to tackling the illicit trade in tobacco products proposed in revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive, announced on 19 December.

The trade in illegal or non-duty tobacco products costs the Treasury over £3.6bn per year, according to HMRC, and the loss of legitimate trade has a disproportionate impact on small retailers and newsagents.

However, the NFRN is concerned that the European Commission has left the door open for the introduction of plain packaging. This, we believe, will greatly increase the opportunities for counterfeiters, blurring the line between legal and illegal products. It will also increase transaction times and costs in shops, and will increase retailers’ vulnerability to crime while they are distracted when retrieving tobacco products.

The NFRN is also concerned by proposals to extend health warnings to nicotine containing products, such as electronic cigarettes, which we believe to be unnecessary and excessive.

Many of the users of these products have realised the dangers of smoking and are trying to quit. They deserve support and not official scaremongering.

Alan Smith, national president, NFRN