News item

Illegal tobacco seized all over Cumbria

Illegal tobacco trading has been stubbed out in Cumbria thanks to a multi agency operation with Cumbria County Council's Trading Standards, HM Revenue and Customs and the North West Illicit Tobacco team.

The operation to take action against fake and non-duty paid tobacco took place after the success of a similar operation which happened earlier this year.

Since the launch of the Tobacco Free Futures campaign 'Illegal Tobacco - Keep it Out', residents in Cumbria have been sharing information with authorities about suspected illegal tobacco supply in their communities.
This information has been acted upon and has resulted in illegal tobacco being seized from addresses in Whitehaven, Egremont, Allonby and Carlisle.

Officers carried out a search of the properties to look for non-duty paid tobacco, counterfeit cigarettes and illegal hand rolling tobacco.
In total, 5kg of hand-rolling tobacco and 8,600 illicit cigarettes were removed from properties, bringing the total figure to 18,000 cigarettes and 21kg of hand -rolling tobacco since the campaign started.

Smoking remains one of the biggest causes of health inequalities in the UK. Illegal tobacco offers smokers cheap tobacco products and undermines the positive impact of pricing and taxation policies that are in place to help reduce smoking rates. Illegal tobacco also has a disproportionate impact on people on low incomes and young smokers as it is easily accessible and cheap.

Angela Jones, Trading Standards Manager, said: "While some people believe they are getting a bargain with cheap illicit tobacco, many don't realise the effect that buying illegal tobacco can have on their local area. The availability of illegal tobacco makes it easier for children and young people to smoke and helps fund organised crime.
Trading Standards will continue to work with partners to deter and disrupt this trade and make Cumbria healthier and safer."

County councillor Gary Strong, cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: "It is encouraging that our communities are supporting Trading Standards and partners in this work and are reporting illegal activity in our neighbourhoods. The supply of cheap tobacco at 'pocket money prices' makes it all too easy for our children and young people to smoke and become addicted. I would urge residents to pass any information about the supply of illicit tobacco to Trading Standards or Crimestoppers."

Mike O'Grady, HM Revenue & Customs Assistant Director for criminal investigation, said:
"Those involved in the illicit tobacco trade are not providing a public service; it is organised criminality. HMRC teams operate across the region to disrupt this illicit trade and will continue to work closely with other agencies to tackle tobacco smuggling at street level and to protect legitimate businesses."

If you believe that tobacco is being traded illicitly in your area you can report illegal activity anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.



Media enquiries to communications adviser Charlotte Thompson on 01228