bunty illegal tobacco

The gantry was removed from Bunty’s, Chorley after illegal tobacco was found

JTI UK has begun pursuing private prosecutions against retailers it believes to be selling illegal tobacco.

The tobacco manufacturer this week removed its 35th gantry in five years from retailers convicted of selling illicit tobacco. However, it also revealed that as this process relies on waiting for retailers to be convicted before it can act, it was also now looking to bring about its own prosecutions.

JTI UK head of communications Mark Yexley told The Grocer it had so far supported a private company in bringing seven prosecutions. These had led to five convictions, he said, with two cases still pending.

The latest gantry removal was from Bunty’s in Weldbank Lane, Chorley, following the discovery of illegal tobacco last year.

In July, it lost its alcohol licence after the seizure of 78 illegal tobacco products. Owner, Ramesh Karsan Varsini, appealed but this was rejected in December.

“Once again JTI has demonstrated its commitment to take action against retailers found to be selling illegal tobacco. Our action, supporting those of law enforcement agencies, serves as a warning to any retailer tempted to sell illegal tobacco products,” said JTI UK head of corporate affairs Charlie Cunningham-Reid.

“JTI calls on other category partners in the distribution chain to join us by withdrawing their support from any retailer who sells illegal tobacco.”

JTI said retailers with information on illegal tobacco should contact the HMRC Fraud Hotline, Trading Standards or Crimestoppers.