News item

Seized cigarettes to be destroyed in North East Lincolnshire

North East Lincolnshire Council’s trading standards team is set to destroy its haul of 20,000 illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco seized during recent operations across the borough. 

Trading standards currently have almost 1,000 packets of illicit cigarettes and more than 6kg of illicit hand rolling tobacco in storage that needs to be destroyed. 

This comes as North East Lincolnshire health and wellbeing board have funded staff within the team to focus on reducing the availability of illicit tobacco. 

The project which aims to stamp out the trade in illicit and fake tobacco products within North East Lincolnshire will see inspections to retailers, investigations into reports of ‘fag houses’ and tobacco dealers selling from business premises. 

There will also be some pro-active education work with partner organisations and community based teams. 

Anyone caught dealing in illicit tobacco will face enforcement action with the maximum penalty for a conviction being an unlimited fine and up to 10 years imprisonment per sale. 

Cllr Hazel Chase, portfolio holder for Safer and Stronger Communities at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “Smokers might think they’re picking up a bargain when buying cheap fake brands or smuggled cigarettes, but the reality is that they’re putting themselves at risk and helping to fund well-organised criminal networks. The trade in illicit tobacco also damages honest local retailers who abide by the rules, they shouldn’t have to compete with criminals selling untaxed and smuggled products. I would ask people to help remove these problems from their local community by reporting anyone who they suspect of selling illegal cigarettes to trading standards.”

Cllr Peter Wheatley, chair of North East Lincolnshire health and wellbeing board said: “The Health and Wellbeing Board recognizes the harm that tobacco is having on our community, so investing in pro-active work to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco and improve health and wellbeing outcomes in this area can only help. I encourage the community to come forward and work with trading standards by reporting those dealing in such products.”

Neil Clark, community protection manager at North East Lincolnshire Council responsible for trading standards, said: "It is not surprising that smokers are attracted to cheap, illegal brands of cigarettes but these brands are completely unregulated with few controls on how they are produced. They may therefore not only present additional risks from the poor quality of materials and poor hygiene but as they do not comply with current fire safety requirements, they can be lethal. 

“We appeal to anyone to get in touch if you have information about any people or businesses selling counterfeit or illicit tobacco products.” 

Genuine, legal packets of cigarettes or hand rolled tobacco can be easily recognised as they should have the words UK DUTY PAID on the packs, all of the wording should be in English and there are health warning messages on both the front and back of the packet.

People are being asked to report people who they suspect of selling cheap, illegal cigarettes to North East Lincolnshire Council trading standards on 01472 326299 (option 3). Alternatively, they can ring Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. 

ENDS 

Notes to Editor: The attached photo shows Cllr Hazel Chase and Neil Clark with some of the seized cigarettes.

Sean Topham 

Communications and Marketing 

North East Lincolnshire Council 

Municipal Offices 

Town Hall Square 

Grimsby DN31 1HU 

T: 01472 325968 

E: sean.topham@nelincs.gov.uk

DATE: 12 September 2014