Talking with colleagues in the trade, we estimate sales have nearly halved over the past two years. Even when we report rogue traders, nothing appears to be done about it. The loss to us and our customers also represents a massive loss to government coffers. We know FWD has been putting pressure on HMRC on the subject of duty drawback. We need some action urgently.

Add to this the issue of bootlegged and counterfeit fags and tobacco, it is a miracle so many small wholesalers and retail businesses survive. When the TV soap East Enders shows market traders openly flogging cartons of cheap cigarettes you feel the battle is lost.

I have my doubts about the effectiveness of Pepsi’s ‘Win Cricket Tickets Everyday’ campaign. With just one draw a day, the chances of winning a ticket to see a one-day international this summer are miniscule. Doesn’t Pepsi realise just how busy independent retailers are? Retrieving and texting codes, even at a nominal cost of 25p plus standard network charges, will discourage multiple entries.

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