A regional campaign to crack down on illegal tobacco sales is being backed by Leeds City Council as part of ‘Keep it Out’ in the run up to ‘No Smoking Day’ on 14 March.
Councils across West Yorkshire, the North East and Hull are linking up to tackle illegal tobacco. This includes cigarettes, hand rolling tobacco or other smoker’s products that have been smuggled into Britain without tax being paid on them, 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 rates on a local level. The 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 sales through a confidential telephone line.
Dr Ian Cameron, Leeds City Council Director of Public Health, said:
“This campaign highlights problems linked to illegal tobacco. It undermines the effectiveness of tobacco control programmes by undercutting legitimate outlets and means it is harder for smokers to quit. It also 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, it makes up 9% of the tobacco market and 16% of smokers feel comfortable with illegal tobacco sales.
Local trading standards teams are already working with retailers and partner organisations to raise awareness of illicit tobacco, as well as carrying out an enforcement action. This includes using sniffer dogs and following up tip offs from members of the public using the Keep It Out website www.keep-it-out.co.uk or phone hotline on 0300 999 0000.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council’s executive member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, said:
“I’m delighted trading standards are targeting illegal 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 illegal tobacco supply to help tackle the problem by reporting it. They can use the www.keep-it-out.co.uk website or phone 0300 999 0000 to play their part getting illegal tobacco out of our communities.”
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 neighbourhoods. We stand ready to respond to any intelligence we receive and everyone should feel uncomfortable this is happening. If you don’t want children to smoke and you know where illicit tobacco is being sold, we encourage you to get in touch.”
Free stop-smoking help is available through OneYouLeeds for anyone who wants to give up. By not smoking, you encourage others, particularly young people, not to start and evidence shows people who get support through a stop-smoking service are four times more likely to be successful quitting than those who go it alone.
The sale of cheap and illicit tobacco including underage sales can be reported by calling the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 – it’s quick, easy and completely anonymous.
Notes for editors
West Yorkshire Trading Services details are at: http://www.wyjs.org.uk/trading-standards/projects-and-initiatives/cheap-and-illicit-tobacco/
For more information about Breathe 2025 please visit www.breathe2025.org.uk
No Smoking Day – 14 March 2018
OneYouLeeds smoking cessation support can be accessed via http://oneyouleeds.co.uk/be-smoke-free/
Nationally, the illegal tobacco market has halved, but the trade is still a problem in some areas.
Why illegal tobacco is dangerous to communities:
• Illegal tobacco dealers target underage smokers, making it easier for children to get hooked - and young smokers are more likely to be offered illegal tobacco than adults.
• Because illegal cigarettes are cheaper, they encourage people to smoke more and make it harder for smokers to quit.
• Increasing tax offers an effective incentive for smokers to quit, but this is undermined by cheap smuggled tobacco.
• All tobacco contains around 4000 chemicals including formaldehyde, arsenic and ammonia and is extremely harmful.