Let’s send illegal tobacco up in smoke

Residents in Buckinghamshire are being warned of the dangers of illegal tobacco in a new public awareness campaign being run by Buckinghamshire Council.

The council’s public health team is working alongside Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards to stamp out the rising trend in illegal tobacco.

Illegal tobacco includes:

  • Tobacco or cigarettes with no legal market in the UK, often from Eastern Europe (sometimes known as ‘cheap whites’)
  • UK brands which are smuggled into the country and sold without duty being paid
  • Counterfeit or fake cigarettes or tobacco that is illegally manufactured and made to look like recognised brands

The teams will be taking to the road throughout the summer to promote the See It, Report It, Stop It campaign which encourages people to stay away from illegal tobacco and to report sales of it anonymously. Typically illegal tobacco will be sold ‘under the counter’ in a similar way to drugs or in informal settings such as market or street stall like other counterfeit goods.

The campaign is being run in response to a growing problem of illegal tobacco across the country as a whole. In terms of the local picture, a survey carried out across the South East in 2018 revealed that Buckinghamshire smokers were more likely to purchase illegal tobacco (3.9%) compared to the South East average (2.8%). In addition, the survey results revealed that fewer responders in the county were less likely to agree that they are a danger to children and young people.

The dangers of illegal tobacco are multiple. In addition to the products themselves often being dangerous and containing unknown substances that are unlikely to meet UK safety standards, the production and sale of illegal tobacco helps fund both low-level and large-scale organised crime and often takes advantage of vulnerable people. The relatively low costs compared to legitimate tobacco also makes it more attractive to children and other vulnerable groups and can lead to exposure to other, even more dangerous products including drugs and alcohol.

Zahir Mohammed, Deputy Cabinet Member for Public Health said: “Illegal tobacco is a very real problem, and it is important that people realise the dangers. The clue is in the name, this tobacco is illegal for a reason, multiple reasons in fact. We would urge anyone tempted by the lure of a cheap deal to think again. It’s not worth the risk. Help us break the cycle by staying away from illegal tobacco and reporting those who are selling it. This can be done anonymously, and your efforts could ultimately save lives and protect communities.”

For more information visit our website: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/illegal-tobacco

To report the sale of illegal tobacco contact Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards Service: https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/