counterfeit tobacco

- The number of adults buying illegal tobacco in the South West has fallen by more than a fifth

- Illegal tobacco share of the market has fallen by over a third

The number of smokers buying illegal tobacco in the South West has fallen by more than a fifth (20%) in just three years, from 20% of smokers in 2010, to 16% today.

The new statistics revealed come from a survey as part of the Tackling Illegal Tobacco for Better Health programme, a multi-partnership initiative led by Smokefree South West alongside HMRC, Trading Standards, the Police, Crimestoppers and Local Authorities across the region.

The figures also show that the illegal tobacco share of the market in the South West has plummeted by over a third (36.4%), from 11% in 2010 to 7% today.

In Bath and North East Somerset, nearly 8 out of 10 adults (76%) surveyed believe illegal tobacco poses a danger to children because it is cheap and easy for them to buy.

Dr Bruce Laurence, Director of Public Health at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Seeing a drop in the proportions of people purchasing illegal tobacco is promising and shows that we are moving in the right direction. By reducing the number of people who smoke illegal tobacco we ensure that we are working towards a healthier Bath and North East Somerset.

“Illegal tobacco is often sold cheaper than shop bought tobacco and as such allows people to smoke when otherwise they could not afford to. Removing these barriers which make it easier for people to stay in their habit is key to protecting residents’ health.”

Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West, said: “Despite the recession where more people are seeking a bargain, seeing the consumption of cheaper illegal tobacco drop like this is very positive indeed and shows that the programme and multi-partnership approach we are taking is working.   

“We know that the illegal tobacco market in the UK has halved in the last decade and our collective efforts to tackle the issue continue to play a huge role regionally in reducing the trade.

“It is also positive to see that amongst local residents, the perception of illegal tobacco and the dangers it poses to local communities and children is also increasing. Cigarettes and pouches of tobacco are often sold at pocket money prices making it cheap and all too easy for our children to smoke and become addicted to tobacco.”

Councillor David Dixon, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Trading Standards team has a crucial role in taking tough action to reduce the supply of illegal cigarettes and stop dealers selling in local communities.

“It’s great to see our combined efforts are reducing the illegal tobacco market share, but there’s still more that can be done and together we hope to reduce the illegal tobacco trade even further.”

During the spring, local events were held in Bath where people could learn more about how illegal tobacco affects local communities in their area.

The sale of illegal tobacco is a criminal offence. Anyone wishing to report the selling of illegal tobacco can report anonymously online to Trading Standards at www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk or  call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org. They cannot trace your call and will never ask for your name.

To pledge your support for the programme or for more information on illegal tobacco go to www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk.  

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