Work to stub out illegal tobacco sales is being highlighted next week.
Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service is visiting communities across the area to let residents know about the real harm caused by illegal tobacco and how residents can help to prevent its supply.
· Green Lanes Shopping Centre in Barnstaple on Thursday 30 August from 9am – 5pm
· The Cornhill in Bridgewater on Wednesday 29 August from 10am – 2pm
· Lower Union Street (outside Primark) in Torquay on Tuesday 28 August from 10am – 4pm
The events are part of the national ‘Report it – Illegal Tobacco: No ifs, No butts’ campaign, which aims to tackle the issue of illegal tobacco in the UK.
Officers from Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service will be on hand with examples of illegal tobacco and to let people know how they can identify it so they can report it and help prevent it harming their community.
Smoking remains one of the UK’s biggest causes of premature death, and the availability of illegal tobacco, sold at considerably below the price of legal product, makes it much harder for people to give up and remain smoke free.
The fact that it is sold at pocket money prices also makes it easier for children and young people to buy, start smoking and develop a habit, especially as the criminals selling it are not interested in who they sell it to. It can also be a gateway for young people into wider criminal activity and addiction as they often visit private addresses to buy cigarettes, which puts them in risky situations with people who might also be selling alcohol, drugs and stolen goods.
The illegal tobacco trade has strong links with organised crime and criminal gangs, with many of the people smuggling, distributing and selling it involved in drug dealing, money laundering, people trafficking and even terrorism.
Steve Gardiner, Interventions Manager at Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, stresses the important role that the public can play in reporting suspicious activity: “It is important to remember that selling illegal tobacco is a crime.
“We are determined to crack down on the sale and supply of illegal tobacco and we have been working hard across the region.
“Although a lot has been achieved, illegal tobacco is still a problem and we need our residents to help us.
“Fewer people are now buying illegal tobacco, which is excellent. And plenty more people over the past few years have decided enough is enough and are providing information to stop local criminals selling and distributing illegal tobacco.
“People can make a real difference to help keep more illegal tobacco off the streets by reporting it. Our officers routinely act on intelligence and the valuable information we receive can significantly aid our investigations.
“This event will help the public know what illegal tobacco looks like, what the dangers are and encourage them to keep their eyes open and report those involved in selling illegal tobacco in their neighbourhood.
“We need to keep the pressure up on those who continue to sell it. We will not tolerate the illegal sales of tobacco and will continue to take firm action to stop this type of activity by using our enforcement powers against those we catch.”
Illegal tobacco can sometimes be hard to spot. Things to look out for include:
- Price less than half the usual retail price
- Missing “UK Duty Paid” stamp
- No health warning
- Foreign language on packs – specifically the health warning
- Printing errors on the pack
- Unusual taste and smell.
Selling illegal tobacco is a criminal offence. Anyone can report the selling of illegal tobacco by contacting on the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 who will report the matter to Trading Standards, reporting it anonymously online at www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk or calling the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. They cannot trace your call and will never ask for your name.
Follow the South West Illegal Tobacco campaign on Facebook to keep up to date with the regional Trading Standards Investigation Team – www.facebook.com/swillegaltobacco.
For support to stop smoking in Devon, contact the OneSmallStep service on 01392 908139 or 0800 2982654. Alternatively, you can visit their website at www.onesmallstep.org.uk
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