Work to stub out illegal tobacco, often sold for pocket money prices, is being highlighted by Bath and North East Somerset Council’s public health and trading standards officers.
They have joined forces to launch the Report it – Illegal Tobacco No ifs, No butts campaign to make people aware of the serious issue.
Smokers are being asked to think twice about the real cost to families and children of selling and buying illegal tobacco and the serious health problem it causes particularly to children who are often the victims of illegal tobacco sales.
A series of roadshows have been held across the area for people to find out more about the health problems already associated with smoking and additional health problems caused by illegal tobacco.
Staff have been able to explain what to look out for and what illegal tobacco looks like.
Bruce Laurence, Director of Public Health at Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “Compared to when I was young, in the UK at least, smoking is in the decline. But it really distresses me when I walk round Bath, too many of those who still do smoke are children and teenagers, some even in their uniforms on the way to school.
“Illegal fags are sold at pocket money prices by criminals who are happy to profit from our children’s future illness and early death. This is why I am so keen that we wipe them off our streets, and why this campaign is so necessary.”
There are three types of illegal tobacco for people to look out for. They are:
Counterfeit – Fake but made to look like the real thing and may well be in standardised packaging or made to look like it is a non-duty paid product.
Non-Duty Paid – A genuine brand with foreign labelling in non-standardised packaging, bought from outside the UK and smuggled in.
Other – Manufactured for the black market to look like genuine well established or Non Duty paid brands. They are not manufactured to comply with current UK legislation and would not been seen for sale at genuine retail premises.
Councillor Bob Goodman, (Conservative, Coombe Down) cabinet member for development and neighbourhoods, said: “We want to hear from all members of public who are in a position to pass on any information about the sale of supply if illegal tobacco,
“This information can be passed on anonymously by either contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or reporting it on line at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”
Free face-to-face support or telephone support is available to any smoker who lives and works in Bath and North East Somerset through the Healthy Lifestyle Stop Smoking Support team run by Virgin Care.
This support can include help to either stop smoking completely, cut down gradually prior to your quit date or cut down to reduce the harm from your smoking.
Julie Harrington, Smoking Cessation Lead for the Healthy Lifestyle Service at Virgin Care, added: “Illegal tobacco has a number of risks associated with it, if people do not know what to look out for they’ re not only risking their health but also breaking the law.
“The stop smoking team is helping provide this vital information to people through this campaign, through our free support and clinics available to any smoker who lives in Bath and North East Somerset.”
Smokers who would like help or advice on how to stop or any help and support in using E-cigarettes should contact 01225 831852.