Illegal tobacco trade crackdown in Cornwall
9:41am Monday 25th February 2013 in News
With 15 per cent of smokers in Cornwall now buying illegal tobacco, a campaign to tackle the trade has been launched.
Sales of illegal tobacco in the South West is thought to be worth £211m and organisations across Cornwall are backing a new multi agency campaign being launched by Smokefree South West today.
The campaign is backed by HMRC, Trading Standards, the Police, Crimestoppers, Primary Care Trusts and local councils with HMRC saying that revenue loss caused by illegal tobacco in the UK stands at £1.86bn.
A campaign spokesman said that illegal tobacco "brings criminals into local communities and into contact with children" as illegal tobacco is often bought at "pocket money prices", selling for less than half the tax-paid price of legally sold tobacco.
Adding that this attracts younger smokers and allows those who could otherwise not afford to smoke to maintain their habit, undermining their attempts to quit.
Smokefree South West director, Fiona Andrews said: “Significant progress has been made since February 2011 when we first launched the campaign to tackle the problem of illegal tobacco across the South West. Our collective efforts to tackle illegal tobacco are having a big effect, but more can be done.
“The only people who benefit from this trade are the criminals who don’t care about what is in the packets they sell. Since illegal tobacco remains part of the range of smuggled and contraband goods traded by criminal gangs it is vital that steady, sustained pressure continues to be applied.”
Elizabeth Kirk, senior Trading Standards officer with Cornwall Council, said: “Local businesses should be aware that if illegal tobacco is being sold on their premises they are liable to a range of fines that could strip them of their livelihood.”
The tobacco and cigarettes are smuggled illegally into the UK and some have been found to be counterfeit and manufactured in completely unregulated environments.
Anyone wishing to report the selling of illegal tobacco can report anonymously online to Trading Standards at www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk or call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org.