A survey is under way to determine the extent of the problem of illicit tobacco in North Yorkshire communities.
Illicit tobacco is cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco or other smoking products that have been smuggled into Britain without tax being paid on them or are counterfeit, and they are usually available through unlicensed outlets. These outlets sell tobacco products to children and young people with sales often funding organised crime.
The findings of the illicit tobacco survey, funded by North Yorkshire County Council Public Health, will be compared with an identical survey from 2016, with the results being used by Trading Standards to tackle the problem.
Measures implemented after the 2016 survey included zero tolerance of retailers supplying illicit tobacco, the highlighting of links to organised crime by way of social media messages and the promotion of the ‘Keep It Out’ campaign to assist in the reporting of criminal activity.
Tackling illicit tobacco is a key element of the Tobacco Strategy 2015-2025, which seeks to help people to stop smoking and normalise a smoke free lifestyle.
Dr Lincoln Sargeant, Director of Public Health in North Yorkshire, said, "Smoking remains the single greatest cause of preventable early death in North Yorkshire. In addition to raising awareness about the harms of all forms of tobacco, we need to reduce the supply of illicit tobacco in our county. This is one of the main objectives of our tobacco control strategy and aspiration to promote a smoke free generation."
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 to tackle this problem by reporting it anonymously through the Keep It Out e-form on https://www.keep-it-out.co.uk or by calling 0300 999 0000.’’
The illicit tobacco survey is being undertaken by NEMS Market research. For more information call Divisional Trading Standards Officer David Miller on 01609 534810.