Protect children by reporting illegal tobacco sales urge Trading Standards as they head out on week-long roadshow

18 July 2017

People are being urged to help protect children in Norfolk by reporting illegal tobacco sales to aid the crackdown on traders who sell illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards and Public Health teams are continuing the campaign launched in September last year which has so far seen over 180,000 illegal cigarettes and 50kg of hand rolling tobacco seized and a number of traders successfully prosecuted for their crimes.

Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of the Communities Committee, said: “Illegal tobacco and cigarettes are being sold at ‘pocket money’ prices in our communities by traders who don’t care that they’re making smoking accessible to our children, and helping them get hooked on it.

“We want to raise awareness that illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime, but is a serious threat to our youngest citizens and their future health and wellbeing, that it harms neighbourhoods and legitimate trade and brings crime into local communities.”

From Tuesday 25 July Trading Standards and Public Health officers will be heading out on a week of roadshows across Norfolk and are calling on people to come along to find out more about illegal tobacco and its dangers.

People stopping by at the roadshows will be able to meet two tobacco sniffer dogs who have played a big part in the illegal tobacco seizures successfully made by Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards officers in the past year. And people will be able to see one of the dogs working with its handler to ‘find’ tobacco and demonstrating the important work they do.

Also present will be the Stop Smoking Service who can provide support to anyone considering quitting smoking.

Sales of cheap illegal tobacco can put young people at risk because they are likely to buy from criminals who also sell alcohol and drugs. The sale of illegal tobacco is often linked with other criminal activity, including organised crime gangs who facilitate the misery of human trafficking and slavery.

Sophie Leney, Head of Trading Standards at Norfolk County Council, said: “This campaign is an extension of our regular work to protect the most vulnerable residents in our communities by cracking down on criminals who prey on them.

“In the last service year our officers seized over 180,000 illegal cigarettes and nearly 50kg of hand rolling tobacco and carried out scores of enforcement visits at businesses across the County. Since April this year we have seized nearly 45,000 illegal cigarettes in Norwich alone. We have brought offending traders before the courts where they have been rightly convicted for their crimes. Convictions have also led to these traders having their premises licences, required to sell alcohol, revoked.

“We rely on the public being our eyes and ears to help us prevent activity like this from continuing and to prosecute those responsible, so I would encourage anyone who has information or any suspicion that illegal tobacco is being hawked around their communities to let us know.”

Louise Smith, Director of Public Health in Norfolk, said “Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease. All forms of tobacco are harmful – cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco, niche tobacco.

“The illegal trade undermines efforts to reduce smoking as it is available at cheaper prices and is available from unregulated in local communities. This makes it easier for children to start smoking and enabling them and get hooked at a young age. With campaigns such as this we hope to raise the awareness of harms of illicit tobacco.

“If you are interested in quitting please contact the stop smoking service at 0800 0854113.”


Notes for editors

Roadshow dates and locations:
• Tuesday 25 July, Great Yarmouth Market Place
• Wednesday 26 July, East Dereham Wrights Walk Shopping area
• Thursday 27 July, Thetford King Street
• Friday 28 July, Norwich the Forum
• Saturday 29 July, King’s Lynn Vancouver Centre

Residents can provide information in the following ways:
• By calling Citizens Advice Consumer helpline (anonymously if you wish) on 03454 04 05 06 or via their online form at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer
• By calling 101 (use 999 in an emergency)

Follow the campaign or register your support on social media using #illegaltobacco

We will be sharing information from the roadshow events each day on our Facebook page and on Twitter

For political comment

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury (Conservative) Chairman of the Communities Committee, on 01603 759693
Cllr Julie Brociek-Coulton (Labour) on 07786 694325
Cllr Sarah Butikofer (Liberal Democrat) on 07968 897235

 

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