This year’s National No Smoking Day takes place on Wednesday 14 March 2018 and North Yorkshire County Council is marking it with the launch of a campaign designed to tackle the problems caused by the sale of illicit tobacco.
Illicit tobacco refers to cigarettes, hand rolling tobacco or other smoker’s products that have been smuggled into Britain without tax being paid on them, or are counterfeit. They are usually available through unlicensed outlets. These outlets often sell tobacco products to children and young people and links with increasing crime rates on a local level.
Called ‘Keep it out’, the new campaign is a regional initiative being delivered by the County Council’s trading standards team and colleagues from local authorities in the North East, West Yorkshire and Hull.
In North Yorkshire, the emphasis will be on raising awareness of the implications of illicit tobacco being available in the county’s communities and encourages both smokers and non-smokers to report the sale of illicit tobacco through a confidential telephone line.
A recent survey in every district showed overall that 31 per cent of smokers have tried illicit tobacco, illicit tobacco makes up nine per cent of the tobacco market and 16 per cent of smokers feel comfortable with the sale of illicit tobacco. There were wide variations in illicit tobacco purchasing habits with Scarborough 21 per cent, Selby 29 per cent and Ryedale 39 per cent having the highest rates.
The campaign highlights the problems of illicit tobacco which undermines the effectiveness of tobacco control programmes and is usually cheaper at the point of sale. Illicit tobacco makes it harder for smokers to quit, and children and young people have easier access to tobacco, increasing the likelihood of them starting smoking.
The Council's trading standards team is already working with retailers and its partner organisations to raise awareness of illicit tobacco, whilst carrying out an enforcement action when required. This has included the use of sniffer dogs and has led to illicit products with a high street value of over £75,000 being removed from sale.
County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Public Health, Prevention and Supported Housing said: “Our trading standards team is urging anyone who has information about the supply of illicit tobacco to help tackle this problem by reporting it anonymously through the Keep It Out e-form on www.keep-it-out.co.uk, or via telephone on 0300 999 0000.
“The County Council also funds a free stop-smoking service called Smokefreelife North Yorkshire to support anyone who wants to give up, and by not smoking, you are encouraging others, particularly young people, not to start”.
Evidence shows that people who get support through a stop-smoking service to quit are four times more likely to be successful than those who go it alone. Smokefreelife North Yorkshire offers a free, flexible support package to suit the individual.
Smokers wanting to stop can attend clinics, drop-ins, receive nicotine replacement therapy or talk to specialist advisors over the phone. Visit www.smokefreelifenorthyorkshire.co.uk, call 0800 246 5215 or 01609 663023 or text QUIT to 66777 to find out more.