SMUGGLERS are costing Yorkshire shopkeepers £50,000 each in lost cigarette sales every year.
The problem is so bad, a third of corner shops in Yorkshire and the North East are considering shutting down as lorry loads of contraband swamp England's towns and cities.
Figures released by the Tobacco Alliance found individual retailers in Yorkshire and the North East are losing an average of £1,000 a week.
David Kitson, owner of Kitson's Newsagents on Princess Alexandra Walk in the centre of Huddersfield said: "It goes in cycles. You will be fine for a while then suddenly you won't be selling any rolling tobacco. It will be as though a shipment has come in."
He said the levels of smuggling appeared to be massive.
The Government estimates losses of £3bn a year in tax and excise on smuggled tobacco and cigarettes.
"For smuggling to be worthwhile, you deal in large quantities," said Mr Kitson. Criminals were dealing in millions of cigarettes at a time, he said.
But he said shops absorbed the losses over the years.
"You almost get used to it. I think it has been going on for years. I wouldn't say this year is particularly worse than last year."
Cigarettes in new EU countries such as Latvia cost the equivalent of 37p a pack. In Britain they are nearly £5.
The impact of the losses means one in four corner shops has had to cut staff while 28% have considered making workers redundant.
Shadow paymaster general Mark Prisk commented: "I would urge the Government to listen more carefully to retailers, to understand that tobacco smuggling is robbing hard-working local shopkeepers of valuable business, and to act now before the situation gets any worse."