All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on illicit trade

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On 23 August 2017, an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on illicit trade within a range of sectors, including alcohol and tobacco, was announced.[1][2]

The group was set up by Dr. Matthew Offord, the Conservative MP for Hendon,[3] who intended it to “look at key issues in some detail and come up with new ideas on how they could be tackled including what works in other countries and the use of new technology”.[4] Offord also stated that:

“Illicit trade impacts everyone no matter what business they are in and no matter if they are a multinational corporation, a small high street shop, a consumer or a taxpayer. We also know that organised crime gangs are behind such seemingly low-level and innocuous activities”.[5]

Offord has previously spoken on tobacco twice in the UK parliament, asking for an estimate of the cost of illicit cigarettes in Northern Ireland on the public purse,[6] and asking how tax revenues will be impacted by plain packaging laws.[7] According to the website, They Work For You, Offord voted against relaxing the smoking ban in 2010, against introducing a ban on smoking in private vehicles where there are children present, and in favour of making it an offence for someone in charge of an enclosed vehicle to fail to prevent smoking within it if someone under 18 is present.[8]

The inaugural meeting of the group was on 5 September 2017, when its officers were due to be nominated and chosen. A later meeting was due to take place in the Autumn of 2017, where a work programme was to be agreed on. This meeting was open to all parties interested in tackling illicit trade.[3]

The announcement of the APPG came exactly a month after Japan Tobacco International hosted an anti-illicit tobacco event which was attended by multiple MPs.[9][10]

Response to the APPG

A spokesman from Imperial Tobacco stated that the company would “look forward to engaging with the APPG if called upon to do so”.[5]

Paul Baxter, chief executive of the NFRN – which has previously received funding from British American Tobacco, expressed support for the APPG stating that “the businesses of legitimate independent retailers… are being devastated by illegal tobacco and alcohol sales.”[1]

PA Consulting Group

The APPG will take “expert advice” from PA Consulting Group – an international consulting and technology company.[11]

PA Consulting Group has previously advised BAT on multiple projects,[5] including supporting their tobacco track and tracing initiatives.[12]

The introduction of an APPG on illicit trade follows the APPG on Smoking and Health’s 2013 inquiry into the illicit trade in tobacco products which made several recommendations at the national level. These included that the Government should consider whether track and tracing provisions promoted by major tobacco manufacturers “could compromise the integrity and independence of enforcement action by public agencies”.[13]

PA’s anti-illicit trade expert, Dr. Steven Carden, said the following when the APPG was announced:

“Human behaviours, evolving technology, and regulatory environments are all part of the challenges as well as the solutions for combating illicit trade. PA Consulting Group is very pleased to be supporting this new All Party-parliamentary Group, and we look forward to providing expert independent advice based on learnings from other countries and activities we have previously undertaken in this field”.[14][15]

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Talking Retail, Cross-party of MPs to probe illicit trade, 23 August 2017, accessed August 2017
  2. Intelligent Business Systems, New parliamentary group to tackle illicit trade, 2017, accessed August 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 Convenience Store, New Parliamentary Group targets illicit tobacco trade, 30 August 2017, accessed August 2017
  4. Asian Trader, New all-party parliamentary group formed to tackle illicit trade, 29 August 2017, accessed August 2017
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Securing Industry, All Party Parliamentary Group on crackdown on illicit tobacco, 29 August 2017, accessed August 2017
  6. Parliament.UK, Tobacco: Smuggling: Written question – 15554, 9 November 2015, accessed August 2017
  7. Parliament.UK, Tobacco: Packaging: Written question – 225598, 26 February 2015, accessed August 2017
  8. They Work For You, Matthew Offord: Smoking Bans, 11 February 2015, accessed August 2017
  9., Politicians join forces to tackle illicit trade, 24 August 2017, accessed August 2017
  10. JTI and MPs Ian Paisley, Stephen Hepburn and David Morris call on Government to take a stand against illegal tobacco, 23 July 2017, accessed August 2017
  11. The Morning Advertiser, APPG set up to probe illicit trade, 25 August 2017, accessed August 2017
  12. PA Consulting, British American Tobacco: Project Track & Trace, 2017, accessed August 2017
  13. All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, Inquiry into the illicit trade in tobacco products, 2013, accessed August 2017
  14. The Grocer, Cross-party MPs group to tackle illicit trade, 25 August 2017, accessed August 2017
  15. Forecourt trader, Parliamentary group formed to focus on tackling illicit trade, 30 August 2017, accessed August 2017