Be aware of the dangers of illegal tobacco

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AN initiative is being launched tomorrow (Wednesday) to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal tobacco.

Children are being sold illegal tobacco in Cambridgeshire, bringing them into contact with criminals and making it easier for them to smoke.

In response, a new campaign is launching, led by an alliance of the Cambridgeshire District Councils, County Council (Trading Standards) and NHS Cambridgeshire in a move to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal tobacco in our area.

Illegal tobacco - which comes in the form of smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco - is sold at around half the price of legal tobacco and can have a devastating effect on communities.

Andrew Fayers, of Trading Standards, said: “The criminal gangs that sell smuggled cigarettes are not concerned with who buys them, they do not care who they sell to including children and under age young people. But as well as causing criminals to prey upon our children, purchasing illegal tobacco brings other crime in to Cambridgeshire and undermines legitimate businesses.”

Local campaigners will be engaging people from the Cambridgeshire community face-to-face to promote the campaign over two days from Wednesday. They will be in Cambridge on April 11 and in Wisbech on April 12, when they will be joined by Councillors and officers from Fenland District Council.

Cllr Tony Orgee, from Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “People don’t necessarily understand the consequences of purchasing illegal tobacco. We want to make people understand how their actions might be impacting on their own neighbourhoods.”

A survey showed 36 per cent of people have been offered illegal tobacco in Cambridgeshire and 8 per cent admit to buying it.

Claire Mead, CAMQUIT co-ordinator, said: “People who are addicted to cigarettes can be drawn in to purchasing illegal tobacco because of its price. However, if they were aware of the effect that their actions are having on their community we are confident they would think twice. The NHS stop smoking support service is here to help those people who would like to stop smoking.”

Representatives from groups across the community - such as children’s centres, stop smoking services and Environmental Health Officers - are also using campaign materials to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal tobacco with those they come into contact with on a day-to-day basis.

The campaign is asking members of the community to:

* TALK: Help stop the flow of illegal tobacco by telling friends and family about the issue.

* PLEDGE: To support the campaign against illegal tobacco.

* REPORT: To share any information about illegal tobacco in the area by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

People can find out more and pledge their support by logging onto the campaign website at www.no-illegal-tobacco.co.uk.