TRADING standards and police have pledged to work alongside customs officers in a bid to smash Poole’s black market tobacco trade.
Borough of Poole will work with other agencies as part of the Smokefree South West initiative, launched today.
One of the campaign’s key aims is to reduce the numbers of people buying and being offered illegal tobacco in Poole.
Many of the counterfeit cigarettes and much of the rolling tobacco offered at cut prices will have been manufactured in unregulated environments and smuggled into the country by organised criminal gangs.
The amount of duty lost to the Treasury because of illegal tobacco is estimated by HM Revenue and Customs at £1.86billion a year.
Last year one of the country’s top three cigarette manufacturers warned the amount of tobacco bought in the UK which had avoided duty and taxes was set to soar.
Japan Tobacco International, the owner of UK-based Gallaher, blamed the duty hikes of the past two Budgets for fuelling the illegal practice. Research carried out in north west London revealed a huge range of illegal cigarettes and rolling tobacco being sold for around half the retail price.
The average price of a packet of 20 cigarettes leapt to £7.46 after the last Budget.
Borough of Poole regulatory services manager Peter Haikin said: “Trading standards are committed to disrupting the supply of illegal tobacco across the south west and through this initiative we are able to gather intelligence to complete this task.
“Businesses should be aware that if illegal tobacco is being sold on their premises you are liable to a range of fines that could strip you of your livelihood.”
The campaign will run a public event in Poole’s Dolphin Shopping Centre on March 9 and 10, providing advice and campaign materials.
Smokefree South West director Fiona Andrews said: “The illegal tobacco market in the UK has halved in the last decade but still poses a real and present threat to children and local communities.
“Cigarettes and rolling tobacco are offered to our children at pocket money prices making it cheap and all too easy for our children to smoke and become addicted.”
The director of Public Health for Bournemouth and Poole Adrian Dawson said: “Smoking is the single most important preventable cause of ill health.
“Illegal tobacco is often sold much cheaper than standard brands.
“This can make it easily affordable and therefore a deterrent in giving up.
“Illegal tobacco is not monitored or licensed so it is difficult to know the quality of its contents.
“Partners in Bournemouth and Poole are proactively working together as a tobacco control alliance to help people quit smoking as well as addressing local issues around illegal tobacco sales.
“Our communities are also getting involved with activities such as litter picks to help inform us of which types of illegal tobacco are circulating.
“We need to continue this effort in supporting people to give up smoking.”
- SINCE 2000 more than 20 billion cigarettes with a value of around £4.5billion have been seized by HMRC
- HMRC has also confiscated more than 2,700 tonnes of hand rolling tobacco since 2000.
- MORE than 3,000 criminals have been successfully prosecuted and more than £48million in confiscation orders secured to recover the proceeds of crime.