A raid was carried out by Trading Standards in Plymouth on Friday 4 July 2014 of a suspected supplier of illegal tobacco, but none was found.
The raid took place in Devonport and come as a new campaign across the whole South West region is launched to make the public aware of the dangers of buying illegal tobacco. Although none was found on this occasion, the message is clear that illegal tobacco trade will not be tolerated in Plymouth.
The campaign, launched by Smokefree South West last week, aims to increase awareness and discomfort levels about illegal tobacco among the general public, encouraging fewer people to buy it and more people to report it.
Councillor Brian Vincent, Plymouth City Council Cabinet member with responsibility for Trading Standards said: “We are working hard to make Plymouth a healthier city and ensure everyone lives long healthy lives. All tobacco poses a health risk, but as illegal tobacco is sold at pocket money prices, it can be bought by children from unscrupulous sellers who are only interested in making money.
“Stamping out illegal tobacco would help reduce smoking amongst adults and children leading to an improvement in people’s health and wellbeing. We also want a safe city for everyone to live in, the illegal tobacco trade is linked to other forms of criminality bringing crime into the community.”
This is the third phase of Smokefree South West’s illegal tobacco campaign, which has so far made 400,000 more people aware of the issue, highlighting the significant dangers to children and communities. Since the campaign first launched, the number of smokers buying illegal tobacco in the South West has fallen by more than a fifth (20%) in just three years, from 20% of smokers in 2010, to 16% in 2013.
There has also been a notable change in public attitudes to illegal tobacco. In the South West, the proportion of all adults who are classified as ‘very uncomfortable’ with illegal tobacco has increased significantly, up from around 1 in 3 (31%) people in 2010 to almost one in two (49%) in 2013.
The figures also show that the illegal share of the tobacco market in the South West has fallen by more than a third, from 11% in 2010 to 7% in 2013.
Fiona Andrews, director Smokefree South West, said: “Since the recession people have been on the hunt for a bargain, but illegal tobacco is not a gamble worth taking, as children who start to smoke at a young age will often carry on for many years so by accepting illegal tobacco into our shops and onto our streets we are putting lives at risk and communities in danger.
“Our research shows that there have been improvements across the region over recent years, which shows that our multi-partnership approach is working. The number of people buying illegal cigarettes is on the decline, but there is still much work to be done.
“16% of smokers in the South West buy illegal tobacco and we need public support to help to reduce this figure. This campaign is designed to help the public know what illegal tobacco looks like; what the dangers are, and to keep their eyes open and report illegal tobacco being sold in their neighbourhood.”
For more information about the campaign go to http://www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk/
More information on Plymouth City Council’s Trading Standards department is here: http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/homepage/business/tradingstandards.htm