Campaign launched to tackle illegal tobacco trade in South Gloucestershire
A CAMPAIGN has been launched to tackle illegal tobacco trade in South Gloucestershire.
The crackdown, which is being co-ordinated by Revenue and Customs, Trading Standards, the police, Crimestoppers, NHS South Gloucestershire and the council, will target traders in a bid to cut the number of people smoking illegal tobacco.
In South Gloucestershire it is believed over one in 10 (14.3 per cent) smokers now smoke illegal tobacco, which has an equivalent retail value of £211million in the region alone.
Nationally, the sale of illegally-imported tobacco products has a revenue of £1.86billion, although that figure has dropped from £2.18billion in 2013.
Smokefree South West director Fiona Andrews said: "Significant progress has been made since February 2011 when we first launched the campaign to tackle the problem of illegal tobacco across the South West. Our collective efforts to tackle illegal tobacco are having a big effect, but more can be done.
"The illegal tobacco market in the UK has halved in the last decade but still poses a real and present threat to children and local communities. Cigarettes and pouches of hand rolling tobacco are offered to our children at pocket money prices making it cheap and all too easy for our children to smoke and become addicted.
"The only people who benefit from this trade are the criminals who don’t care about what is in the packets they sell."
Strong, Safer Communities manager for South Gloucestershire Council, Mark Pullin, said: "Trading Standards are committed to disrupting the supply of illegal tobacco across the South West and through this initiative we are able to gather intelligence to help us complete this task.
"Businesses selling illegal tobacco should be aware that South Gloucestershire Trading Standards take these offences extremely seriously and legal action is likely to be taken against them."
The campaign will be running a public engagement event in South Gloucestershire in March to help bring the message of the dangers illegal tobacco poses into local communities.
To report the selling of illegal tobacco go to www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org.