from Alan Toft, director general, Federation of Wholesale Distributors
Sir; John Healey, the customs minister, has made an adroit justification for the new Customs & Excise policy which will enable cross-Channel passengers to exist for six months on their supply of cheap tobacco and alcohol.
But the new policy reveals a frightening mindset in government which should provoke wholesale and retail lobbyists into greater protest.
The old guidelines were perfectly acceptable. The offenders knew they were taking a chance.
Legitimate cigarette sales in the UK over the past year increased by 5% as a result of this and determined anti-smuggling activities by Customs.
It is now a given that the prime minister needs The Sun to help him win the next election and that is fair enough in a democracy which always deserves the government it gets.
The irony is that newsagents who sell The Sun are the people that the newspaper will damage.
The serious issue is the complete absence of any coherent government overview of the food and drink marketplace. Top line government policy is to ensure the survival and development of small business enterprises. The supermarket code of practice is in line with this ­ it threatens the giant superstore corporations with legal penalties if they abuse their power.
In line with the code, we should have expected an excise duty strategy and associated ports policing which would protect small business. But instead we get the opposite ­ an excise duty policy which hurts small shops.