A new website has been launched which allows people to anonymously report the sale of illegal tobacco.

The website has been launched by Trading Standards South West and is intended to encourage public reporting of concerns and suspicions about illegal tobacco sales across the whole of the region.

Cabinet member for environment and public protection, councillor Rob Nolan, said: “It is important that members of the public know how and where they can report information about illegal tobacco. It is also important that they understand the true extent of the damage illegal tobacco has on society.

“Here in Cornwall, and across the rest of the south west region, we receive information regarding the sale and supply of illegal tobacco from a variety of sources. One of the most important and valuable comes from members of the public, who may hold key information, crucial to an investigation.”

As well as offering people the chance to report illegal sales, the site also includes comprehensive information about the different types of illegal tobacco and the negative impact it has on society.

Many illegal cigarettes are unlikely to comply with safety standards and they will often not self-extinguish when not continually smoked, greatly increasing the fire safety risk at home.

They are also likely to exceed the legally permitted carbon monoxide and tar levels (in some cases by up to 80 per cent) while not containing the amount of nicotine stated on the pack.

Profits made from the sale of illegal tobacco, often fund other serious and organised crime such as modern slavery, people trafficking and drugs.

In addition to its connection to organised criminal groups, illegal tobacco is available at pocket money prices, sold to children and often fails other vital safety standards.

The new site also brings together the current south west illegal tobacco facebook @SWIllegaltobacco and twitter @SWIllegaltobac accounts.

To find out more visit www.SWIllegalTobacco.info

Three different types of illegal tobacco:

Counterfeit: Fake but made to look like the real thing and may well be in standardised packaging or made to look like it is a non-duty paid product.

Non Duty Paid: A genuine brand with foreign labelling in non-standardised packaging, bought from outside the UK smuggled back in.

Other Cigarettes or Tobacco: Manufactured for the black market to look like genuine well established or Non Duty paid brands. They are not manufactured to comply with current UK legislation and would not been seen for sale at genuine retail premises. May have English or foreign labelling and may also be in standardised packaging.

Sales of counterfeit or fake tobacco are criminal offences punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.