Keep it Out, a regional campaign to crack down on illegal tobacco sales is being backed by Bradford Council as part of the run up to No Smoking Day on 14 March.
Councils across West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, the North East and Hull are linking up on No Smoking Day to tackle illegal tobacco, which include cigarettes, hand rolling tobacco and other smoker’s products that have been smuggled into Britain without tax being paid, or are counterfeit and usually available through unlicensed outlets.
Outlets selling illegal tobacco products often sell to children and young people and are linked with increasing crime at a local level. This new ‘Keep it Out’ campaign highlights the implications of illegal tobacco being available in local communities, and encourages both smokers and non-smokers to report the sale of illegal tobacco through a confidential telephone line.
While all tobacco kills one in two long term smokers, illegal tobacco bypasses price and age restrictions. The trade in illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to start smoking, harder for adults to stop, and brings crime into local communities.
Sarah Muckle, Deputy Director of Public Health, said:
“This campaign highlights problems linked to illegal tobacco. It undermines effectiveness of tobacco control programmes, by undercutting legitimate outlets it means it is harder for smokers to quit and it enables children and young people to have easier access to tobacco, increasing the likelihood of them smoking.”
Recent surveys in Yorkshire show 31% of smokers have tried illegal tobacco; illegal tobacco makes up 9% of the tobacco market and 16% of smokers feel comfortable with the sale of illegal tobacco.
Local trading standards teams are already working with retailers and partner organisations to raise awareness of illegal tobacco, as well as carrying out enforcement action. This includes using sniffer dogs and following up information from members of the public who can report illegal tobacco confidentially.
Coun Val Slater, Bradford Council's Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:
“I’m pleased trading standards are targeting illicit tobacco sales. Not only do we know tobacco kills, illegal tobacco also brings crime into local communities and is used to get children hooked on smoking. I urge anyone who has information about the supplying of illegal tobacco to help tackle the problem by reporting it.”
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said:
“Anyone selling illegal tobacco in our communities needs to know we are targeting them. As they target children and young smokers, content to make money out of anyone, we will continue to track them down and prosecute them. Illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime but harms neighbourhoods and brings crime into our streets and communities. We stand ready to respond to any intelligence we receive. If you don’t want children to smoke and you know where illegal tobacco is being sold, we encourage you to get in touch.”