South West illegal tobacco awareness campaign launched

A multi-partnership scheme was launched yesterday to help raise awareness and tackle the trade of illegal tobacco products in the South West.

The campaign is bringing together Smoke Free South West, HM Revenue and Customs, Crimestoppers, Police, Trading Standards and the local authorities across the South-West.

Tom Scott, spokesperson for Smoke Free South West, said: “In this first stage we are trying to raise awareness in the area, people may be aware of illegal alcohol but illegal tobacco is less widely recognised as a problem.

The under the counter trade of illegally imported cigarettes and tobacco is a big issue in the region, said Mr Scott.

In Poole, three in ten smokers buy black market tobacco products, having a huge economic impact on the area.

“We want to make people aware of the potential health risks and inform them that this cheap accessible tobacco enables young children to smoke.”

A spokesman for HMRC South West, Bob Grainger said that the trade of illegal tobacco is a huge problem in the area and one that funds organised crime.

He said that the products are illegally smuggled into the country and are often counterfeit. This means that they are made in an unregulated environment and as a result the health risks are increased.

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Main image credit: HMRC Flickr

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