Use of illegal tobacco is endangering children

Anti- illegal tobacco campaigners in Wisbech
Anti- illegal tobacco campaigners in Wisbech
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AN initiative has been launched in Cambridgeshire with Campaigners coming together 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, the new campaign was launched in the county on Wednesday (April 11) led by an alliance of the Cambridgeshire and District Councils, 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, including Trading Standards and CAMQUIT, our local Stop Smoking Service, as well as Fenland councillors were in Wisbech on Thursday to talk to people face-to-face to promote the campaign.

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 total of 36 % of people have been offered illegal tobacco in Cambridgeshire and 8 % 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 it 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

Illicit tobacco products are tobacco products, primarily cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, which are sold to consumers without any UK excise duty being paid on them. Illicit tobacco is also known as illegal or cheap tobacco, which is smuggled into the UK. It can be the genuine product or counterfeit, either produced here or abroad. It is known by numerous other names with other regional variances.

* Smuggling -occurs where legitimately manufactured tobacco products are diverted, usually when in the wholesale distribution chain, evading payment of the tax.

* Bootlegging - a variant of smuggling: tobacco products are purchased in a country with a low level of taxation and illegally brought into countries with higher rates of taxation.

* Non-UK brands (‘illegal Whites’) - brands manufactured overseas and smuggled their products into the UK. Brands include Raquel, Richman and Jin Ling.

* Counterfeiting - involves the illegal manufacture of tobacco products, often abroad but sometimes in the UK to pass as UK brands avoiding all tax.

What should you look out for when it comes to illegal tobacco being sold?

* tobacco for sale in unusual places such as car boot sales

* unauthorised sellers selling cheap tobacco in pubs, clubs and workplaces

* legitimate retailers selling tobacco at remarkably cheap prices

* tobacco products without health warnings or with warnings not in English

* tobacco products without the “UK duty paid” pack mark

* unusual or foreign brands

* unusual, out-of-hours deliveries

* transfer of goods between vehicles

* heavily laden vans

* regular hiring of vans for foreign trips

* frequent private trips to France and/or Belgium or Spain


HMRC has had a national strategy in place to tackle tobacco smuggling since 2000. In that time it has seized more than 20 billion cigarettes, with a value of around £4.5 billion in legitimate lost sales, and seized over 2,700 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco. Over 3,300 criminals have been successfully prosecuted and more than £48 million in confiscation orders secured to recover the proceeds of crime

The facts behind the campaign

* A 2011 study conducted by NEMS market research on behalf of the East of England Tobacco Control Team

* This work has been based on evaluations of campaigns in other regions in England

* 1568 interviews conducted face-to-face or by telephone with 56 in depth (30-40 minutes) telephone follow up interviews by NEMS Market Research.

* Interviews were conducted in each PCT area across the region

* Sample consisted of a representative sample of all adults and a booster sample of smokers

* Data weighted to adjust for deviations in population profile

* Interviews were conducted in September and October 2011