April 12, 2012 Leave a comment
A new campaign has been launched to prevent children being targeted for sales of illegal tobacco.
Illegal tobacco, which comes in the form of smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco, is sold at around half the price of legal tobacco and can have a devastating effect on local communities.
Studies suggest that young people may be up to four times more price sensitive than adults, making them a particular target. Access to cut-price tobacco makes it easier for children to smoke and can bring them into contact with criminals.
According to new research, almost a third of people in Suffolk have been offered illegal tobacco (28%) and 14% admit to buying it.
The month-long campaign sees Suffolk County Council working alongside Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), NHS, East of England Trading Standards Association and other local councils to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal tobacco in our area.
Councillor Colin Spence, Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said;
“People don’t necessarily understand the consequences of purchasing illegal tobacco, and we want to help them understand how their actions might be impacting on their own neighbourhoods. While the cheaper price may be appealing, the consequences can be grave, especially for young people.
“It is a scary fact that illegal tobacco also goes hand in hand with the sale of drugs and alcohol, with child exploitation and money laundering. This is something we want to prevent at all costs, which is why this campaign is so important.”
Local campaigners, including Smokefree East of England and Suffolk Trading Standards will be taking to the streets in Ipswich and Lowestoft this month to promote this important message in the local community.
Children’s centres, NHS stop smoking services and other participating groups across the county are also campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal tobacco with those they come into contact with on a day-to-day basis.
Elspeth Gibson, Chair of the Suffolk Tobacco Control Alliance;
“The criminal gangs that sell smuggled cigarettes are not concerned with who buys them, and do not care who they sell to.
“Unfortunately this often includes children and young people who are under age. As well as causing criminals to prey upon our children, purchasing illegal tobacco brings other crime to our communities and undermines legitimate businesses.”
The campaign is asking members of the community to:
TALK: Help stop the flow of illegal tobacco by telling friends and family about the issue
PLEDGE: To support the campaign against illegal tobacco
REPORT: To share any information about illegal tobacco in the area by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
People can find out more and pledge their support by visiting the campaign website at http://www.no-illegal-tobacco.co.uk.