HC Deb 27 November 2000 vol 357 cc482-3W
Mr. Tynan

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action Customs and Excise is taking against internet sites selling tobacco products which give misleading information to customers about the legal status of their purchases. [139778]

Dawn Primarolo

A number of companies which advertise cigarettes at discounted prices on internet websites claim quite incorrectly that what they are doing is legal. In fact the purchase of tobacco by a private person in the UK from a trader elsewhere is described as Distance Selling and certain regulations apply. They require the vendor to account for duty and tax liable in the UK prior to dispatch of the goods. If this is not done the tobacco is liable to forfeiture on arrival in the UK.

The Government have made clear their determination to tackle this problem. As part of the strategy to achieve this, Customs recently launched a publicity campaign. The campaign includes adverts on internet search engines to warn consumers of these fraudulent cigarette sites. Customs have also written to all identified websites advising them of correct procedures to be followed. They have also notified Internet Service Providers (ISPs) whose sites are being used.