A new task force has been set up in Nottinghamshire to prevent sales of illegal tobacco and encourage local residents to avoid counterfeit products.
Nottinghamshire County Council has set up a new task force in an attempt to prevent the sales of illegal tobacco.
They have invested £91,000 of its public health funding into the new scheme.
The funding will cover the cost of the investigations into cutting down the supply of illegal tobacco products in the county.
”Children and young people are often targeted by sellers of counterfeit cigarettes and illegal tobacco has strong links with organised crime, so we will come down hard on those caught selling these goods,” said Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle.
Officers in the task force will be working alongside the council’s public health officers, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and a number of other agencies to combat the ever increasing issue.
In the team’s first investigations into tobacco sales in shops in Hucknall, Sutton, Mansfield, Netherfield and Stapleton they discovered and seized around 9,000 counterfeit tobacco products which added up to the street value of £40,000.
Illegal tobacco products make it much more difficult for people to quit smoking as they go against the government’s national strategy which aims to limit the demand for cigarettes by keeping tobacco at a high price.
The sale of these products has been an on-going and prevalent issue in the UK. Cheap tobacco attracts young people to taking up smoking, detrimentally effects businesses selling legal tobacco and avoids government tax.
When asked if she could tell the difference between counterfeit and legal tobacco, one smoker said it’s easy to spot the counterfeits.
Between 2011 and 2012, an estimated revenue of £1.86 billion pounds was lost on public services due to duty not being paid on approximately nine percent of cigarettes and around 38 percent of hand-rolling tobacco.
Smoking illegal tobacco is also a huge health risk, as some has been found to contain extremely dangerous substances including toxic chemicals, rat droppings and asbestos. The council hope to educate locals on these risks and hope it will encourage them to make sure their tobacco is legal before they purchase it.
Trading standards in the UK aim to seize all counterfeit products and Nottinghamshire County Council hope their task force will help to bring this issue to an end.
If you have any information on the trade and sale of counterfeit tobacco & cigarettes please contact Crimestoppers.