An illicit tobacco operation has uncovered 20,000 cigarettes and 4kg of tobacco worth more than £12,000 following seizures at three Scarborough shops.
Illicit tobacco is cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco that is counterfeit or has been smuggled into Britain without tax having been paid. It is far cheaper than genuine tobacco, which makes it more accessible to smokers and therefore makes quitting more difficult for smokers. Evidence suggests that illicit tobacco supply funds organised crime.
The intelligence-led operation sought to tackle illicit tobacco supply across the Scarborough area using specialist tobacco detection dogs, which can find concealed tobacco and cigarettes. On this occasion, the detection dog identified cigarettes and tobacco concealed in a wall cavity that would not have otherwise been discovered during the raids.
In addition to having any stock confiscated, offenders could face unlimited fines and up to ten years in prison if found in possession for supply.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Derek Bastiman, Executive Member for Trading Standards, said: “The supply of illicit tobacco will not be tolerated. We will continue to adopt a zero tolerance approach to these matters and use every enforcement technique at our disposal to disrupt this activity.”
Our Tobacco Control Strategy encourages communities to reshape social norms so that tobacco becomes less desirable, less acceptable and less accessible. Anyone with information about illegal tobacco can call the Illegal Tobacco Reporting Line on 0300 999 0000 or use the online reporting form at Keep It Out.
The campaign is part of the County Council’s commitment to the aspirations of its tobacco strategy, which supports Breathe 2025, the regional initiative working to ensure that the next generation of children are born and raised in a place free from tobacco, and where smoking is unusual.
Louise Wallace, Director of Public Health for North Yorkshire, said: “All tobacco is harmful, but the illegal tobacco market and in particular the availability of cheap cigarettes make it harder for smokers to quit and remain smoke-free. For those who want to quit, there is help available.”
Smokers in North Yorkshire wanting to quit can access Living Well Smokefree, which provides free one-to-one behavioural and motivational support as well as access to stop-smoking products to help people kick the habit. For details, call 01609 797272 or visit our Stop Smoking page